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Current Affairs 2021

The value of Current Affairs in Civil Service Examinations is enormous. This is the most critical part of both Prelims and Mains Exam. Aspirants should study in depth to understand the significance of current affairs for the Union Public Service Commission. In fact, all the questions in Civil Service Exams are framed around current affairs. Questions are not asked directly for current news and information in the exam. Questions are framed by combining current affairs with practical knowledge. The primary motive behind this type of strategy is to check the ability of correlation a candidate can make to the fact.

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Why current affairs is more important in Civil Service Exam?

Success in Prelims and Mains Exam is directly related to an aspirant’s awareness in current affairs. Preparation of current affairs for UPSC is the key to unlock the exam. It requires practice and revision in a well-connected manner... In such a scenario the preparation of current affairs topics related to India and the world is an important part of your preparations. The students have to be aware of the happening in India and around the world as this portion is an integral part of the general studies paper.

In order to make you ready for the challenges of the Current Affairs preparation, we are covering the current affairs topics on a regular basis. Our current topics are categorised in such a way that it includes; political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, government's scheme and policies and international affairs.

We provide you comprehensive topics of preparation that covers not only India's current scenario but also international events. We also cover Indian news headlines and other important international events under the current affairs segment.

For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is current news and views in India, we are covering the current affairs 2020 on a regular basis. Our hot topics are categorised such that they include political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, current government affairs and international affairs. Only studying India's current scenario or political affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover international events and affairs along with the Indian news space, as well as important and current events in the field of science and sports.


Current Affairs January 11 to January 17

Arts

Makar Sankrati: Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan or Maghi or simply Sankranti has its own historical and religious significance in India.  It is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun). On this auspicious day, the Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac which corresponds with the month of January as per the Gregorian calendar. It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara rashi (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. Usually, the festival is celebrated on January 14, but in some exceptions, it takes place of January 15.

Makar Sankranti is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that has been observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. It is the date from which the northward movement of the sun begins. The period from Karka Sankranti to Makar Sankranti is known as the Dakshinayan.

The harvest festival is celebrated throughout India, although under different names and traditions.

They are as follows:

  1. Magh Bihu in Assam,
  2. Maghi (preceded by Lohri) in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, popular amongst both the Hindus and Sikhs,
  3. Sukarat in central India,
  4. Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu,
  5. Makar Sankramana in Karnataka,
  6. Uttarayan in Gujarat,
  7. Khichidi Sankranti in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh,
  8. Ghughuti in Uttarakhand,
  9. Makara Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa,
  10. Paush Parbon in West Bengal (also called Poush Sankranti),
  11. Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,
  12. Saen-kraat in Kashmir,
  13. Sukaraat in Madhya Pradesh.

On this day, devotees take a holy dip in rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Cauvery and Krishna. The bathing is believed to result in merit or absolution of past sins and it is also considered a time of peace and prosperity and many spiritual practices are conducted on this day.

Every 12 years, along with Makar Sankranti celebrations, the Kumbh Mela also takes place, which is one of the world’s largest mass privileges.

Popularly referred to as til-gud, sesame and jaggery ladoos or chikkis are distributed on this day.The sweet signifies that people must stay together in peace and harmony despite their differences.

Making of a General A Himalayan Echo: It is a book titled “Making of a General-A Himalayan Echo” authored by (Retd) Lt General Konsam Himalaya Singh. Manipur Governor, Dr Najma Heptulla recently released a book virtually at Durbar Hall, Raj Bhavan, Imphal.

The book is the memoir of Lt Gen (Dr) Konsam Himalay Singh. In book features his journey from a small village in Manipur to becoming the first person from North East India to hold the rank of a Three-Star General of the Indian Army. The book has also highlighted about Manipur, the “Land of Emeralds”.

Kalaripayattu: Kalaripayattu is also known as Kalari. It the oldest surviving martial art of the country, with a legacy, of more than 3,000 years. It is an Indian martial art and fighting style designed for the ancient battlefield (the word "Kalari" meaning "battlefield"), with weapons and combative techniques that are unique to India. This style of martial art originated in Kerala.

This martial art includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and even healing methods.Practitioners of Kalaripayattu also possess intricate knowledge of pressure points on the human body and healing techniques that incorporate the knowledge of Ayurveda and Yoga.

Unlike other parts of India, warriors in Kerala belonged to all castes. Women in Keralite society also underwent training in Kalaripayattu, and still do so to this day. Keralite women such as Unniyarcha are mentioned in a collection of ballads from Kerala called the Vadakkan Pattukal, and are praised for their martial prowess.

Recently, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan released the syllabus of the Kalaripayattu Academy on January 16 during the inauguration of the renovated Crafts Village

The 3,500 sq ft academy in the village is scheduled to be completed in two months.

Lessons in one of the most famous combat styles in the world will now be taught at Kerala Tourism’s Vellar Crafts Village en route to Kovalam.

Economics

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) constituted a working group on digital lending including online platforms and mobile apps.

The working group was constituted to study all aspects of digital lending activities in the regulated and regulated financial sector. The group will ensure that an appropriate regulatory approach is put in the digital lending platform. RBI Working Group on Digital Lending

The working group consists of both internal and external members and is chaired by Jayant Kumar Dash, Executive Director, RBI.

The move comes in the backdrop of the 3 borrowers in Telangana who committed suicide over alleged harassment by personnel of such digital lenders and also as there were many more complaining of being subjected to coercive methods after defaulting on repayments.

Functions of the working group:

  1. It will evaluate digital lending activities in the country.
  2. It will assess the standards of outsourced digital lending activities in RBI regulated entities.
  3. It will recommend measures to expand statutory perimeter in digital lending.
  4. It will suggest regulatory changes to promote orderly growth of digital lending.
  5. It will identify risks to be faced by the unregulated digital lending. It will mainly focus on risks faced by consumers and regulated entities that are exposed to unregulated digital lending.
  6. It will also recommend measures for expansion of specific regulatory or statutory perimeter and suggest the role of various regulatory and government agencies. It will also recommend a robust fair practices code for digital lending players.

The group will submit its report within three months.

Benefits of digital lending:

  1. The Digital lending makes the financial products and services more efficient, inclusive and fair.
  2. Earlier digital lending played a peripheral supporting role. However, currently, it is now at the core of the design, delivery and pricing of financial services and products.

Digital Lending: Digital lending is the process of offering loans that are applied for, disbursed, and managed through digital channels, in which lenders use digitized data to inform credit decisions and build customer engagement. It consists of lending through web platforms or mobile apps, by taking advantage of technology for authentication and credit assessment.

Khadi Prakritik Paint: It is an eco-friendly, non-toxic paint, called “Khadi Prakritik Paint” is a first-of-its-kind product, with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties.

Recently, the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSME, Nitin Gadkari launched the first-of-its-kind and innovative new paint developed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission.

The paint has been certified by Bureau of Indian Standards. Khadi Prakritik Paint will be available in two forms. They are distemper and plastic emulsion

Khadi Prakritik Emulsion paint meets BIS 15489:2013 standards; whereas Khadi Prakritik Distemper paint meets BIS 428:2013 standards.

The project was conceptualized by Chairman KVIC in March 2020, and later developed by Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, Jaipur (a KVIC unit).

Benefits of Khadi Prakritik Paint:

  1. It is based on cow dung as its main ingredient so the paint is cost-effective and odorless.
  2. Utilization of cow dung will also clean the environment and prevent clogging of drains.
  3. It is eco-friendly and non-toxic, with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
  4. The paint is free from heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and others.
  5. It will be a boost to local manufacturing and will create sustainable local employment through technology transfer.
  6. This technology will increase consumption of cow dung as a raw material for eco-friendly products and will generate additional revenue to farmers and gaushalas. This is estimated to generate additional income of Rs 30,000 (approx.) per annum per animal to gaushalas and farmers.

EBITDA: It stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. The State-owned undertakings Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) have turned EBITDA positive in first 6 months of this financial year 2020-21.

EBITDA is a metric used to evaluate a company’s overall financial performance. It is a measure of profits.It is now commonly used to compare the financial health of companies and to evaluate firms with different tax rates and depreciation policies.

Among its drawbacks, EBITDA is not a substitute for analyzing a company's cash flow and can make a company look like it has more money to make interest payments than it really does. It also ignores the quality of a company's earnings and can make it look cheaper than it really is.

Prarambh: It is a Startup India International Summit. The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal recently inaugurated the two-day ‘Prarambh’, Startup India International Summit in New Delhi on 15 January 2021.

The Summit was organized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), under M/o Commerce & Industry.

The inaugural event witnessed the participation by The members of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries.

The ‘Prarambh’ Summit aims to provide a platform to the startups and young minds from around the world to come together and collaborate to work collectively to come with new ideas, innovation and invention.

The focus of the Summit was on enhancing multilateral cooperation and engagement with countries from around the globe to collectively develop and strengthen the startup ecosystems.

The Summit marks the fifth anniversary of the Startup India initiative. It was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16 January 2016.

Defence

Armed Forces Veterans Day: The Indian Army commemorates Armed Forces Veterans Day on 14 January every year as a mark of respect and recognition of the services rendered by our veterans. This day also coincides with the retirement date of Field Marshal KM Cariappa, OBE, the first Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Indian Army. He retired on 14 Jan 1953.

The main aim of observing the day is to strengthen the bond between the Ex-Servicemen and the serving personnel. This is also a forum to enhance the satisfaction levels pertaining to issues of pension and welfare of veterans and their Next of Kin.

Recently, the fifth Indian Armed Forces Veterans Day was celebrated to honour services rendered by veterans of the Army. This year is being celebrated as Swarnim Vijay Varsh. It marks 50th Anniversary of 1971 Indo-Pak War. 

 Speaking on the occasion, Army Chief General Manoj Naravane said, last year had been very challenging for the nation and the Armed Forces. He said, the Armed Forces bravely stayed at the northern borders while also battling the pandemic efficiently. He exuded pride that the Army had the support of veterans in carrying this out.

 Field Marshal Cariappa: He was the Chief of Army Staff from 15 January 1949 to 14 January 1953. He was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Indian Army. He led Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in 1949. He is one of only two Indian Army officers to hold the Five-star rank of Field Marshal; the other being Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. He had seen action in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Burma winning many laurels and accolades during his sterling career.

Despite his advancing age, he made many visits to the front line troops to boost their morale and motivate them. He was active till his last breath on 15 May 1993, at the age of 94 years.

Army Day: Army Day is celebrated on 15 January every year in India, in recognition of Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa's (then a Lieutenant General) taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from General Fransis Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief of India, on 15 January 1949.

The day is celebrated in the form of parades and other military shows in the national capital New Delhi as well as in all headquarters.

On 15 January 2021, India celebrated its 73rd Indian Army Day in New Delhi.

Army Day marks a day to salute the valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country and its citizens. Gallantry awards and Sena medals are also awarded on this day. Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees participate in the Army Day parade every year.

Note: In 2020, Captain Tania Shergill became the first female officer to command an Army Day parade.

Asmi: It is the name of India’s first indigenous 9mm Machine Pistol meaning “Pride”, “Self-Respect" & “Hard Work”. In a major boost to the defence calibre of India and further push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative of the Central Government,Asmi has been jointly developed by DRDO and Indian Army.

It has been designed and developed by the Infantry School, Mhow and DRDO’s Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune. The pistol has been developed in a record time of four months.

The Machine Pistol fires the in-service 9mm ammunition and sports an upper receiver made from aircraft grade Aluminium and lower receiver from carbon fibre.

Significance: The weapon has huge potential in Armed forces as a personal weapon for heavy weapon detachments, commanders, tank and aircraft crews, drivers/dispatch riders, radio/radar operators, Closed Quarter Battle, counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations etc.

The weapon will also find huge employability with the central and state police organizations as well as VIP protection duties and Policing.

The Machine Pistol is likely to have production cost under rupees 50000 each and has potential for exports.

Sea Vigil 21: It is a major exercise to test military readiness at sea along the coastline of the country. The second edition of the biennial pan-India, largest coastal defence exercise ‘Sea Vigil-21’ coordinated by te Indian Nave kick started from 12 January 2021 and continued till the 13th of January 2021.

The two-day exercise involving all stakeholders, states and Central government agencies set the tempo of operations, including “transition from peace to conflict”.

'Sea Vigil 21' is a build-up towards the next step and level exercise called “Tropex” (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise), which is conducted by the Indian Navy every two years. Indian Navy’s assets, Customs, Coast Guard, and other maritime agencies also participated in the exercise.

Both, TROPEX and Sea Vigil together covered the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges, which includes the transition from peace to conflict.

Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries and Customs, state governments and other agencies of Centre and state facilitated the exercise.

The inaugural edition was conducted in January 2019

The exercise by the Indian Navy was undertaken along the entire 7,516 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India. It also involved all the 13 coastal states as well as UTs along with other maritime stakeholders, which includes coastal and fishing communities.

The entire coastal security set up was reorganized after the 26/11 Terror attack at Mumbai which was launched via the sea route.

Exercise ‘Sea Vigil-21’ is expected to provide a realistic assessment of India's strengths and weaknesses and thus will help in further strengthening maritime and national security.

Amresh Kumar Chaudhary: He is the Incumbent Chief Controller of MiL Rail. He has recently been awarded the prestigious "Chief of Army Staff Commendation" for his outstanding contribution to Armed Forces during critical period of Covid19 pandemic and its various operations.

Mil Rail: Mil Rail is an extension of Traffic Directorate of Ministry of Railways, headed by Executive Director (ED) level officer with office at Army HQ. It works in close coordination with Ministry of Defence for Railway operations pertaining to their requirements.

It is responsible for overall coordination, strategic planning & execution of Railway Logistics support to Defence forces during peace & emergency situations.

A separate control room manages all these Railway operations which is headed by a Chief Controller.

Environment

Mealworms: Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle. Despite their name, mealworms are beetle larvae rather than worms.

Like all holometabolic insects, they go through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Larvae typically measure about 2.5 cm or more, whereas adults are generally between 1.25 and 1.8 cm in length.

 Mealworms are recently in news as they may soon find their way into Europe’s pasta bowls and dinner dishes, after becoming the first insect approved in the region as a human food.

The decision taken by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) paves the way for the yellow grubs to be used whole and dried in curries and other recipes and as a flour to make biscuits, pasta and bread.

As they are rich in protein, fat and fibre, they are likely to be the first of many insects to feature on European’s plates in the coming years.

Lake Chad: Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow, endorheic freshwater lake in central Africa, which has varied in size over the centuries. The lake is located in the Sahelian zone of West-central Africa. It is mainly in the far west of Chad, bordering on northeastern Nigeria.

This lake provides water to more than 30 million people living in the four countries surrounding it (Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon) on the central part of the Sahel. It is the largest lake in the Chad Basin.

The Chari River, fed by its tributary the Logone, provides over 90% of the lake's water, with a small amount coming from the Yobe River in Nigeria/Niger.

Recently, India expressed serious concern over the security situation in the Sahel and Lake Chad region in West Africa.

India also condemned terrorist attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Lake Chad region and by Islamic State in West Africa.

MEE-ZOO Framework: It refers to the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Indian Zoos framework. The Union Environment Minister Prakash Javedkar recently launched the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Indian Zoos (MEE-ZOO) framework.  Under the framework, the MEE of 146 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries (NP&WLS) in the country was released.

The report has been prepared by MoEFCC with technical inputs from Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

The assessment process of India's National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries was adopted from International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) framework of Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE).

The framework proposes guidelines, criteria and indicators for evaluation of zoos of the country in a manner which is discrete, holistic and independent.

The assessment criteria and indicators look beyond the traditional concepts, include issues of animal welfare, husbandry and sustainability of resources and finance.

The MEE-ZOO exercise is moving towards developing highest standards in Zoos across India and adhering to core values of accountability, innovation, transparency, use of technology, collaboration and integrity to achieve the mandate of conservation of endangered species.

National Academies of Sciences: The proceedings of National Academies of Sciences were recently attended by the entomologists from all over the world.

According to the entomologists, the insect population is declining at rapid rate. The scientists have named this as Insect Apocalypse as the Earth is losing 2% of its insects every year.

The main reasons of Insect Apocalypse is due to insecticides, climate Change, light Pollution,herbicides, invasive Species, changes in land use and intensive agriculture.

The two main examples are Honey Bees and Butterflies. The main reason for their decline is - lack of food, insecticides, herbicides and parasites.

The insects are important as they are essential for the proper functioning of the ecosystem as pollinators, food for other creatures and as recyclers of nutrients. Insects outweigh humanity by seventeen times.

Insect decline is the worst in North America and in parts of Europe. The first Global Scientific review published in the Biological conservation journal.

The insect decline discussed internationally for the first time at the United Nations Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP-13).

According to the Convention on Migratory Species, insect extinction is to begin. A draft resolution was prepared at the convention. The resolution will help understand die off of the insects and its effects on migratory species.

Indian Policy

New Foreign Trade Policy: The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently announced that the new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2021-2026, is to come into effect from April 1, 2021 and will strive to make the country a leader in international trade.

The policy will be implemented for 5 years. The goal of this policy is to make India a 5 trillion USD economy.

As per the statement by the Commerce Ministry, the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry held a meeting on the subject ''New Foreign Trade Policy 2021-26''. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri, and attended by Members of Parliament (MPs) and senior officers of the ministry.

The Key Highlights of the new Foreign Trade Policy:

  1. The District Export Hubs Initiative will be forming a significant component of the new Foreign Trade Policy.
  2. The policy will aim to boost exports in both merchandise and services.
  3. It will enhance ease of doing business.
  4. It will bring improvements in the operations of domestic manufacturing and services sector through infrastructure support.
  5. The policy will not only bring changes to regulatory and operational framework but also lower transactional costs.

The ministry's arm Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will be formulating the policy.

Note: The previous foreign trade policy was implemented between 2015 and 2020. This policy aimed to boost “Make in India” initiative.

The policy merged 5 different schemes under “Merchandise Export from India Scheme” (MEIS).

The five different schemes were:

  1. Market Linked Focus Product Scheme
  2. Focus Product Scheme
  3. Focus Market scheme
  4. VKGUY
  5. Infrastructure Incentive Scrip

Also, the Served from India scheme was replaced with Service Exports from India Scheme.

CollabCAD: It is Collaborative CAD Software software that is being jointly launched by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), MeitY along with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Ministry of Education.

CollabCAD is a collaborative network, computer-enabled software system, providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design.

This main objective of this initiative is to provide a great platform to students across the country to create and modify 3D digital designs with a free flow of creativity and imagination.

CollabCAD software will be used for Practical assignments as part of the subject curriculum for making different types of 3D designs and 2D Drawings.

CBSE under the leadership of Chairman, Shri Manoj Ahuja, IAS will introduce CollabCAD Software for Engineering Graphics (Subject Code 046) at the Senior School Level for Class XI and XII.

Students from around 140 plus schools across the country and the schools in the Middle East (affiliated with CBSE, New Delhi) will have access to this software which can be used for practical projects and understanding concepts of Engineering Graphics.

National Informatics Centre, NIC, CBSE, and Atal Innovation Mission also jointly released a comprehensive e-book on CollabCAD 3D modeling.

NIC and CBSE will be signing an MOU for ‘CollabCAD Software Support and Training for Students and Faculty of Engineering Graphics in CBSE affiliated Schools’ for a period of 10 (ten) years in the august presence of Sh Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.

This MOU aims to develop human resources and skills around CollabCAD software and popularize CollabCAD among the students and faculty.

NECA: It refers to the National energy Conservation Awards. The Ministry of Power, in association with Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), recently organised the 30th National Energy Conservation Awards (NECA) 2020 function. The Chief Guest at the event was R.K Singh Minister of State (Independent harge) for Power and New & Renewable Energy.

The awards were presented to round 57 units from 5 sectors for their energy conservation and energy efficiency efforts.

During the event, the Standards and Labelling Programme for Air Compressors and Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV was launched on a voluntary basis.

The event also witnessed the launch of the SAATHEE (State-wise Actions on Annual Targets and Headways on Energy Efficiency) Portal.

Standards and Labelling Programme for Air Compressors and UHD TV: The initiative launched on a voluntary basis is is expected to save around 8.41 Billion Units of electricity for Air Compressors and 9.75 Billion Units for UHD TV till 2030. The energy consumption standards will be effective from 01st January 2021.

SAATHEE Portal: It is a Management Information System (MIS) portal developed by BEE for facilitating real-time monitoring of the progress of implementation of various Energy Conservation endeavours at State level.

At the event, R.K Singh also highlighted the PAT (Perform, Achieve & Trade) scheme being implemented by BEE. It is being implemented under the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE). NMEEE is one of the eight national missions under which the NAPCC (National Action Plan on Climate Change) was launched in the country in 2008.

PAT is a regulatory instrument to reduce specific energy consumption in energy intensive industries. It is an associated mechanism to enhance the cost effectiveness through certification of excess energy saving which can be traded.

BEE: Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is a statutory body under Ministry of Power which is mandated to implement policy and programmes in energy efficiency and conservation. The objective of such initiatives is to reduce energy intensity in our country by optimizing energy demand and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) which are responsible for global warming and climate change. The current Director-General of BEE is Abhay Bakre.

Atal Tinkering Lab Handbook 2.0: Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog recently launched its new edition of Atal Tinkering Lab handbook named ‘The Atal Tinkering Lab Handbook 2.0’. The handbook reinforces detailed establishment and operational processes of the Atal Tinkering Labs and its journey towards an innovative ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

The ATL Handbook outlines a practical guidance on structural, selection, establishment and celebration aspects of the AIM’s flagship ATL programme. It also encompasses work done by the AIM team in a framework using 4 key pillars of the ATL initiative – Selection, Establishment, Enablement, and Celebration.

ATLs: It refers to Atal Tinkering Laboratories. ATLs is one of the flagship schemes proposed under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). AIM an initiative of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), Government Of India, is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.

The main idea behind setting up of ATLs is encouraging the young students to understand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts practically and creatively using the specific tools and equipment.

An ATL provides a makerspace where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills.

To foster entrepreneurship and innovation, Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog has established over 7000 ATLs across the country.

Indian polity

Supreme Court: The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of constitutional review. It was established on 26 January 1950. It’s headquartered in New Delhi. The current CJI of the Supreme Court is Sharad Arvind Bobde.

Recently, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of three farm laws to end the disagreement between the farmers and Government of India.

The Indian farmers are protesting against these three acts as they fear that they might lose more than they could gain thereby taking the protest to the streets.

The Farm Laws which were recently enacted by the Union Government are as follows:

  1. The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act. The act permits inter-state and intra-state trade of farmers produce beyond the premises of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC). The act abolished market fee. It allows electronic trading. It also facilitates lucrative prices for the farmers through alternative trading channels to promote barrier free inter-state and intra-state trade of agricultural produce.
  2. Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. This act creates a national framework for contract farming between farmer and buyer.
  3. Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The farmers are protesting against the Farm Laws because the laws lay the framework to sell the produce directly to the corporates. The farmers do not trust the corporates. According to the farmers, this might end the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system in the country.

The protests are high in Haryana and Punjab because the agriculture in Haryana and Punjab is high as Green revolution was first introduced in these states, so are the MSP procurement in these states. Around 89% of rice produced in Punjab and 85% produced in Haryana are procured by the Government.

Karnataka Cabinet: Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa recently expanded his 17 month old cabinet, inducting seven ministers.

The oath of office and secrecy to the ministers were administered by Governor Vajubhai Vala at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan. The new ministers are MLAs MLAs Umesh Katti (Hukkeri), Murugesh Nirani (Bilgi), Umesh Katti (Hukkeri) and Arvind Limbavali (Mahadevapura), and MLCs C. P. Yogeshwar, M.T.B. Nagaraj and R. Shankar. Excise Minister H. Nagesh is being requested to step down.

This is the third expansion since Mr Yediyurappa took over as CM in July 2019. In August 2019, 17 ministers were inducted, while in February 2020, ten newcomers to the BJP were inducted into the Cabinet.

International

USA: The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. The 50 states covers a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean. The currency used in USA is United States dollar - USD also abbreviated US$. The capital of US is Washington, D.C. The current President of US is Joe Biden.

Recently, President Donald Trump became the first US president to be impeached twice. The House of Representatives voted to charge him with inciting last week's mob attack on the US Congress.

Trump was impeached for a historic second time on January 13 by 232 - 197 vote by the US House on a single charge of incitement of insurrection that left five dead and the Capitol ransacked.

It was supported by all Democrats and 10 Republicans, including Liz Cheney.

The Senate will not hold a trial before the 20th of January when Democrat Joe Biden assumes the presidency, meaning Mr Trump will escape the risk of being forced to leave early.

France: France officially the French Republic is a country consisting of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. It is historically and culturally among the most important nations in the Western world. France has also played a highly significant role in international affairs, with former colonies in every corner of the globe. The capital of France is Paris. The currency of France is Euro, CFP franc. The current President of France is Emmanuel Macron. The current Prime Minister is Jean Castex.

Recently, the Government of France organized the fourth ‘One Planet Summit’, through videoconferencing. The summit is aimed at protecting the world’s biodiversity.

The Summit was organized in cooperation with the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank (WB). The theme of the Summit was “Let’s act together for nature!”

It was inaugurated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron, and President of the World Bank Group David Malpass.

The summit is an international event that focused on biodiversity to mobilize commitments to protect the ecosystems and make links to human health.

The main aim of the Summit is to promote worldwide ecological transformation. The One Planet summit will measure environmental and climate protection combined with innovation and economy.

The Summit focused mainly on 4 topics. They are:

  1. The protection of terrestrial and marine ecosystems,
  2. The promotion of agroecology,
  3. The mobilization of funding for biodiversity,
  4. The link between deforestation, species and human health.

Kyrgystan: Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic and also known as Kirghizia, is a country in Central Asia. It is a landlocked country with mountainous terrain. It is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west and southwest, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east. The Capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek. The national drink is horse milk which is known as kumyz there. The 40 sun rays on the flag represent the country's original 40 tribes. The currency of Kyrgyzstan is Kyrgyzstani som.

Recently, Kyrgyzstan's politician Sadyr Japarov won a landslide victory in Kyrgyzstan's snap presidential election.

According to the Central Election Commission, Mr Japarov had won 79% of votes cast. Mr Japarov, who served time in jail for taking a rival hostage, will also have sweeping new presidential powers after voters by a similar margin opted to amend the constitution in a referendum.

Kyrgyzstan has been in crisis since parliamentary elections last October. The results of those elections were disputed, leading to protests and the resignation of then-President Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

National

India and UAE: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on scientific and technical cooperation between National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) of the United Arab Emirates and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) India.

Key Highlights of the MoU:

The MoU provides for sharing of knowledge, data and operational products for meteorological, seismological and oceanic services, such as Radar, Satellite, Tide gauges, seismic and Meteorological stations between both the countries.

The pact will pave the way for both the countries to exchange experience/ visits in term of scientists, research scholars and specialists for the purpose of research, training, and consultation focused on climatic information services.

They will also share experience on satellite data utilization for tropical cyclones forecasting, and exchange scientific and technical information related to common interest activities, deployment of Meteorological observation networks over ocean.

Organization of bilateral scientific and technical seminars/ workshops/ conferences and training courses on problems related to the fields of cooperation mentioned in the MoU and of interest to both countries.

Cooperation to support the Tsunami Early Warning Centre (TEWC) in the form of forecast modelling software, specifically designed to support the Tsunami forecasting operations.

Cooperate at the field of Seismology which includes the study of Seismic activities having the potential to generate Tsunami waves in Arabian Sea and Oman Sea.

Sharing the real-time seismic data and cooperation in early warnings of sand and dust storms are the other key elements of the MoU.

PMFBY: It refers to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yajana. The PMFBY is a Crop Indurance Scheme that has successfully completes 5 Years of operations on 13th January 2021.

The PMFBY was launched in 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is an insurance service scheme for farmers for their yields. The main objective of this scheme is to reduce the premium burden on farmers and ensure early settlement of crop assurance claim for the full insured sum.

It was formulated in line with One Nation–One Scheme theme by replacing earlier two schemes Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) and National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS).

The scheme is being administered by Ministry of Agriculture and is implemented by empanelled general insurance companies.

The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops and voluntary for other others.

The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are being conducted under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).

National Youth Day: The day is also called the “Yuva Diwas”. The National Youth Day is celebrated on the 12th of January every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda . The day aims to create awareness about rights of people in India. It educates people to behave properly in the country.

The National Youth Day being observed by the Nation in 2021 is the 158th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand. The theme for National Youth Day 2021 is ‘Channelizing Youth Power for Nation Building‘.

In 1984 the Government of India (GoI) declared this day as National Youth Day and since 1985 the event is celebrated in India every year. The GoI quoted that ' the philosophy of Swamiji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian Youth Day.

Swami Vivekananda: Born on January 12, 1863, in Kolkata was one of India's greatest leaders and believers of youth power. He played significant role in the growing Indian nationalism of the 19th and 20th century, reinterpreting and harmonizing certain aspects of Hinduism. He participated a lot during major movements against the British. His teachings and philosophy applied this reinterpretation to various aspects of education, faith, character building as well as social issues pertaining to India, and was also instrumental in introducing Yoga to the west.

Swami Vivekananda's famous speech at the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893 at Chicago had changed the way the world looked at India. He introduced Indian Vedanta and philosophies of Yoga to the world which put India on the world's spiritual map.

He founded the Ramakrishna Math and Mission on 1 May 1897. In 1898, he established Belur Math.

Some of the inspirational quotes by Swami Vivekananda:

  • "Talk to yourself once in a day, otherwise you may miss meeting an intelligent person in this world."
  • "You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself."
  • "We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far."
  • "Our duty is to encourage everyone in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth."
  • "Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached."

2nd National Youth Parliament Festival: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the valedictory function of the second National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) on 12th January 2021 via video conferencing. The Event took place in the Central Hall and the Prime Minister also heard the views of the three young national winners of the Festival.

NYPF is celebrated every year from January 12 to 16. January 12 is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and is also observed as National Youth Day. The first NYPF was organised from January 12 to February 27, 2019, with the theme 'Be the Voice of New India and Find solutions and Contribute to Policy', in which 88,000 youngsters participated.

The purpose of the NYPF is to hear the voices of youngsters aged 18 to 25 and are set to join various professions in coming years, including public services

NYPF is based on the ideas presented by the Prime Minister in his Mann Ki Baat Address on New Year's Day Eve, 2017.

The 2nd NYPF was launched on December 23, 2020 through a virtual mode.

India and Surinam: The Indian-origin President of the Republic of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade on January 26.

India had initially invited Boris Johnson to be the chief guest but the British PM had to cancel his visit in view of the grim coronavirus situation back home.

Earlier this week, Santokhi was the chief guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, held by the Ministry of External Affairs and he delivered the keynote address.

Chandrikapersad Santokhi was sworn in as the president of Suriname in July 2020, when his party, the Progressive Reform Party, won 20 of the 51 seats in the elections.

Surinam: Suriname officially known as the Republic of Suriname is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. It is one of the smallest countries in South America. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south. It is considered to be a culturally Caribbean country, and is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It is the only sovereign nation outside Europe where Dutch is the official and prevailing language of government, business, media, and education. The captal of Suriname is Paramaribo. The currency used here is Surinamese Dollar (SRD). The current President of Suriname is  Chan Santokhi.

People In News

Turlapaty Kutumba Rao: He is a renowned journalist and Padma Shri awardee who passed away on 11 January 2021 in Vijayawada.

Born in 1933, Turlapaty Kutumba Rao entered journalism at the age of 14 and went on to become an expert in politics, history and governance. He was an Indian journalist and orator known for his service to journalism in Telugu language.

He is reported to have written over 4000 biographies and delivered over 16000 public speeches which has been recorded by the Telugu Book of Records as a world record.

He was a secretary to T. Prakasham, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and was known to have mooted the idea of demarcating states on the basis of language in 1947, when India became independent. He was also a chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Grandhayala Parishad, a policy making body of the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

He was a recipient of the title of Guardian of Telugu from C. Rajagopalachari, then Governor of Andhra Pradesh. He was honored in 2002, with the Padma Shri making him the first journalist from the state of Andhra Pradesh to receive the award. He was also a nominee for Padma Bhushan for the year 2014.

RS Sharma: He is a former Trai chief who has been appointed as the chairperson of an empowered committee for the administration of Covid-19 vaccine.

A ten-member team has been constituted to be headed by Sharma. This has come days ahead of the mega vaccination drive is to start in India.

He has also been included as a member of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of Covid-19 that was formed in August 2020.

Dushyant Dave: He is the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president. He recently resigned from his post with immediate effect. His resignation was confirmed by the acting SCBA Secretary Rohit Panday.

SCBA: It refers to the Supreme Court Bar Association. SCBA is an Indian bar association, comprising the practicing lawyers of the Supreme Court of India.

Places In News

Hisar Airport: Hisar Airport belongs to the Civil Aviation Department, Haryana. It is a public licensed airport that is suitable for 18 seat type aircraft. The development of the Hisar airport was undertaken by the MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation) as it aligns with the dual objectives of the UDAN scheme; "letting the common citizen of the country fly" & make air travel affordable and widespread in the country.

Recently, Government of India (GoI), under the Regional Connectivity Scheme – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (RCS-UDAN), flagged off the first flight to the newly constructed Hisar airport in Haryana from Chandigarh to Hisar.

India's first air taxi services in Haryana from Chandigarh to Hisar were inaugurated by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

The flight was flagged off by Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister, Haryana. The flagging off marks the operationalization of the 54th airport under the UDAN scheme.

To date, 307 routes and 54 airports including 5 heliports and 2 Water Aerodromes have been operationalized under the UDAN scheme.

The airline Aviation Connectivity & Infrastructure Developers Pvt. Ltd (Air Taxi) was awarded the Hisar – Chandigarh – Hisar route under the UDAN 4 bidding process.

The airline has become the first start-up airline of the country to assist the nation with Air Taxi services.

UDAN: The full form of UDAN is ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik’. UDAN is a regional connectivity scheme spearheaded by the Government of India (GoI). This scheme aims to develop smaller regional airports to allow common citizens easier access to aviation services.

UDAN was launched under the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2016.The first flight under the UDAN scheme was flagged in 2017 from Bhubaneswar to Varanasi route.

Objectives of the Regional Connectivity Scheme:

  • To provide connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through the revival of existing airstrips and airports.
  • To make travel affordable and accessible to all.
  • To boost inclusive national economic development, job growth and air transport infrastructure for development of all regions and states of India.

Due to this yojana many underserved and un served regional airports have received regular passenger air service.  Prominent amongst these regional airports are Bhatinda, Bikaner, Agra, Porbandar, Kadappa, Pondicherry, Kandla,  Nanded, Shirdi.

Hisar: Hisar is the administrative headquarters of Hisar district of Hisar division in the state of Haryana in northwestern India. It has been identified as a counter-magnet city for the National Capital Region to develop as an alternative center of growth to Delhi. The place is India's largest galvanized iron manufacturing city.

History of Hisar: The city of 'Hisar', was originally called 'Hisar Firoza (also Hisar-e-Firoza) or in other words the 'Fort of Firoz'. But as the days rolled by, the very word 'Firoza' was dropped from its original name.

Manipur: Manipur is a state in northeastern India.It is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west; Myanmar lies to its east. Manipur literally means, “The jeweled land”. It was formed on 21 January 1972. Its Capital is Imphal. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Manipur are Najma Heptulla and Biren Singh respectively.

Recently, Manipur has become the 4th State in the country to successfully undertake “Urban Local Bodies (ULB)” reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance in its letter to the States dated 17th May, 2020.

The state has now joined the three other States namely, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, who have completed this reform.

The State has now become eligible to mobilize additional financial resources of Rs.75 crore through Open Market Borrowings.

Reforms in the Urban Local Bodies and the urban utilities reforms are aimed at financial strengthening of ULBs in the States and to enable them to provide better public health and sanitation services.

Economically rejuvenated ULBs will also be able to create good civic infrastructure.

The reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure to achieve these objectives include:

  • The State will notify (a) floor rates of property tax in ULBs which are in consonance with the prevailing circle rates (i.e. guideline rates for property transactions) and (b) floor rates of user charges in respect of the provision of water-supply, drainage and sewerage which reflect current costs/ past inflation.
  • The State will put in place a system of periodic increase in floor rates of property tax/ user charges in line with price increases.

Nubra: Nubra is a subdivision and a tehsil in the union territory of Ladakh. Its inhabited areas form a tri-armed valley cut by the Nubra and Shyok rivers.

The Shyok River meets the Nubra River (or Siachan River) to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and Karakoram Ranges. The Shyok River is a tributary of the Indus River.

Recently, the first ever Ice climbing festival was celebrated in Nubra valley of Leh.

The Seven Day event was organized by Nubra Adventure Club.

Ice climbing is a popular winter sport abroad. Taking the cue, local adventure sports lovers have explored several ice climbing spots in Nubra valley to attract the adventure tourists to the region.

To promote winter tourism in Nubra valley, Nubra Adventure Club, with the help of Social activist Dr. Nordan Otzer organized the Seven Day Ice Climbing festival.

Leh:Leh is the joint capital and largest town of the union territory of Ladakh in India. Leh was an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley between Tibet to the east, Kashmir to the west and also between India and China for centuries. The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) is in charge of governance in Leh. It has 30 councillors, 4 nominated and 26 elected. The Chief Executive Councillor heads and chairs this council. The 'Deputy Commissioner, Leh' also holds the power of 'Chief Executive Officer of the LAHDC'. The Current Deputy Commissioner of Leh district is Sachin Kumar Vaishya.

Health Ministry Kayakalp Awards: The Kayakalp awards for the year 2019-20 were recently presented to the Public and Private Health Facilities for high standards of Sanitation and Hygiene by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan.

The awardees are:

District Hospital Reasi of J&K won First prize under the Kayakalp scheme.

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) won Second Prize under the Kayakalp scheme.
  2. AIIMS Bhubaneswar was awarded best central government hospital under Category B of Kayakalp Awards for the third consecutive time.
  3. Rairangpur Sub Divisional Hospital of Mayurbhanj district was awarded best Sub-divisional hospital community health centre category of Kayakalp Awards.

About the Awards:

The government had launched a National Initiative ‘Kayakalp’ on 15th May 2015 to ensure hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness in Public Health Facilities in India.

Health Ministry had collaborated with Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and launched Swachh Swasth Sarvatra programme, under which, one community health centre (CHCs) situated within ODF block receives one-time grant of 10 lakh rupees for undertaking improvement activities, so that the CHC becomes Kayakalp CHC.

The factors considered to present Kayakalp Awards are - Waste Management, Hospital Upkeep, Sanitation and Hygiene, Infection Control, hygiene promotion, support services and beyond hospital boundary.

The main objective of the scheme is to incentivize public health care facilities that show high performance in following protocols, infection control, cleanliness and sanitation.

It inculcates a culture of peer review of performance related to sanitation, hygiene, and infection control.

It shares and creates sustainable practices related to improving cleanliness in public health facilities.

Swachh Swasth Sarvatra: Swachh Swasth Sarvatra scheme was launched in 2016. The Swachh Swasth Sarvatra aims to strengthen community health centres in open defecation blocks, especially in the region of those Public Health Centres or hospitals that have received the Kayakalp Awards.

The three main objectives of Swachh Swasth Sarvatra isto enable Gram Panchayats where the Kayakalp awarded Public Health Centres are located to become Open Defecation Free, to strengthen the Public Health Centres to reach the Kayakalp standards through support of Rs 10 lakhs under the National Health Mission and to build capacity through training in sanitation, water and hygiene.

Science and Technology

NIP: It refers to the National Innovation Portal. The Union Minister for Science & Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan recently dedicated an Innovation Portal, developed by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) - India, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India (GoI), to the nation.

NIP is currently home to about 1.15 lakh innovations scouted from common people of the country, covering Engineering, Agriculture, Veterinary and Human Health.

At present, in terms of domain areas, the innovations cover Energy, mechanical, automobile, electrical, electronics, household, chemical, civil, textiles, Farm / cultivation practice, storage practice, plant variety, plant protection, poultry, livestock management, nutraceuticals etc.

Innovation Portal is a step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat and an excellent resource for students, entrepreneurs, MSME’s, Technology Business Incubators (TBI’s) and common people engaged in a variety of occupations.

CSIR-NIScPR: The Union Minister of Science & Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan recently inaugurated a new institute of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) i.e. CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR), in New Delhi.

The new institute has been established consequent to the merger of two prestigious institutes of CSIR namely, CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (CSIR-NISCAIR) and CSIR-National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (CSIR-NISTADS).

CSIR-NIScPR will serve the society with its core areas of science communication and policy research which has proved to be so important during the Covid19 pandemic.

The VISION of the institute is to become a globally respected Think Tank and Resource Centre for understanding Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) Policy Research and Communication. It aims to promote STI policy studies and science communication among diverse stakeholders.

Vanadium: Arunachal Pradesh is likely to become India’s prime producer of vanadium. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) found promising concentrations of vanadium in the palaeo-proterozoic carbonaceous phyllite rocks in the Depo and Tamang areas of Papum Pare district in Arunachal Pradesh.

This was the first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India, with an average grade of 0.76% V2O5 [vanadium pentoxide].

Vanadium mineralization in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the “stone coal” vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale. This high vanadium content is associated with graphite, with a fixed carbon content of up to 16%.

Indian scenario: India is a significant consumer of vanadium, but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal. According to data provided by the GSI, India consumed 4% of about 84,000 tonnes of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017.

Global scenario: The largest deposits of vanadium of the world are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa. China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium, consumed 44% of the metal in 2017.

Vanadium: Vanadium is a by-product obtained from the processing of Vanadiferous magnetite ores. In its pure form, Vanadium is soft, ductile and grey in colour. It is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23.

It is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal which is rarely found in nature. It is recovered as a by-product from the slag collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores (iron ore).

Vanadium is a high-value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium. The addition of the alloy improves the tensile strength of steel and of the reinforcing bars that are used for tunnels, buildings, and bridges. The alloys made of vanadium are durable in extreme environments and temperatures and are also corrosion-resistant.

Sports

Khelo India Zanskar Winter Sports & Youth Festival 2021: It is a 13-day Zanskar Winter Sports & Youth Festival 2021 that is being organized from 18th to 30th January 2021 by the Dept. of Sports & Youth Services under the Khelo India banner in collaboration with the Ladakh Tourism Department.

The UT administration is promoting far-flung and snowbound Zanskar as winter tourism destination. The main attractions of the first-ever Zanskar Winter Sports & Youth Festival are Chadar Trek on Zanskar river, meditation, yoga, ice skating,  Hockey, snow skieing, climbing, traditional Archery, snow scooter, biking, Yak and horse riding, Snow sculpturing and food and cultural festivals.

Zanskar: Zanskar, Zahar (locally) or Zangskar is also known as Janskar or Jangskar. It is a subdistrict or tehsil of the Kargil district, in the union territory of Ladakh. The administrative centre is Padum.

Zanskar Range: The Zanskar Range is a mountain range in the union territory of Ladakh that separates Zanskar from Ladakh. Geologically, the Zanskar Range is part of the Tethys Himalaya, an approximately 100-km-wide synclinorium formed by strongly folded and imbricated, weakly metamorphosed sedimentary series. The average height of the Zanskar Range is about 6,000 m. Its eastern part is known as Rupshu.

Dhaka Marathon 2021: The marathon was organized on the 10th January 2021 to commemorate the return of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from Pakistan jail to Bangladesh in 1972. Home Minister of Bangladesh Asaduzzaman Khan inaugurated the event at Dhaka Army Stadium. As many as 200 runners took part in the marathon, organised by the Bangladesh Army.

Jigmet Dolma, an SPO of Ladakh police from India recently secured the fourth position in the Dhaka Marathon 2021. Hicham Lakohi of Morocco came first in the elite competition of the marathon in men’s category while Angela Jim Asunde from Kenya won the women’s category in the same event.

Two more women runners from India and a total of 8 athletes participated in the marathon. In the full marathon, among the SAARC and local runners, Bahadur Singh of India became the champion in the men's category and Pushpa Bhandari of Nepal became the champion in the women's category.

 The full marathon covered 42.19 kilometres while the half marathon covered 21.09 kilometres. Athletes from all over the world including India, Morocco,  Nepal, Kenya, France, Ethiopia among others participated in various categories of the event.

BCCI: It is an acronym of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. BCCI is the national governing body for cricket in India. The board was formed in December 1928 as a society, registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. Its headquarters are in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Grant Govan was its first president and Anthony De Mello its first secretary. The current President of BCCI is Sourav Ganguly.

Recently, Jay Shah has been named as the official representative of BCCI for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board meetings. He is the Secretary of the BCCI. He will be replacing BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, who was currently representing India at the ICC Board, but he suffered a heart condition recently and had to be admitted to hospital where he underwent primary angioplasty.

Current Affairs January 04 to January 10

Arts

Ladakh: Ladakh (meaning "land of high mountain passes") is a mountainous region in North India. It is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constituting a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. Ladakh is known for remote mountain beauty, studded with monasteries and stupas. Ladakh is often referred as "Little Tibet" due to its geographical proximity and strong links to Tibetan culture.

Recently, Centre has decided to form a committee to protect the language, culture and land of Ladakh and ensuring citizen's participation in the Union Territory's development.

The announcement was made on 6 January 2021 by the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that a panel has been set up under the chairmanship of Kishan Reddy to find solutions on the issues related to language, culture and conservation of land in the union territory of Ladakh due to developmental activities.

The decision to form the Committee came after Union Home Minister Amit Shah met a 10-member delegation from Ladakh who expressed their views about the need to protect Ladakh's unique cultural identity.

The Committee will be headed by the Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy and will include elected representatives from Ladakh, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, central government, and the Ladakh administration.

26th KIFF: It refers to the 26th Kolkata International Film Festival. The festival was virtually inaugurated by the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on January 8, 2021.

The inaugural ceremony was also virtually attended by Bollywood superstar and West Bengal's brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan from Mumbai.

The festival will screen 131 movies from 45 countries till January 13. Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's classic 'Apur Sansar' will be the inaugural film of the festival.

The Chief Minister has also raised the occupancy limit of theatres from 50 percent to 100 percent in the state with adherence to COVID safety protocols.

Cherry Blossom Mao Festival: The fesival was recently held on the 9th January 2021 at Senapati district of Manipur marking the beginning of pink season in the district.

The Mao area of Senapati district in Manipur is known for Cherry Blossom, a plant which is popularly known as Sakura in Japan.

The festival is being organized by the Manipur government every year since 2017 onward.

The festival features the picturesque landscape of Mao town adorned with beautiful Cherry Blossom flowers.

Note: cherry blossom is a flower of many trees of genus Prunus. Prunus cerasoides is called wild Himalayan cherry or the Indian wild cherry, and sour cherry. In Hindi it is known as padam, pajja, or padmakashtha.

Mannathu Padmanabhan Ji: Mannathu Padmanabhan (1878 – 1970) was an Indian social reformer and freedom fighter from Kerala. He is recognized as the founder of the Nair Service Society (NSS). He created an organization for the welfare of the Nair community that is found primarily in Kerala. He revived and reshaped the old concept of village societies, the Karayogams, which practically set the tenor of family and village life.

He took part in the Vaikom (1924) and Guruvayoor(1931) temple-entry Satyagrahas.

In 1959, he along with Christian Churches led a united opposition against the State Communist Ministry, which became known as the Vimochana Samaram (liberation struggle).

He was honoured with the title Bharata Kesari by the President of India. He also received Padma Bhushan in 1966.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Sri Mannathu Padmanabhan Ji on his jayanti and remembered him for his pioneering contribution towards community service, social justice and cultural regeneration.

World Hindi Day: The World Hindi day is celebrated every year on January 10 in order to promote the language world-wide.

World Hindi Day (Diwas) was first celebrated on 10 January, 2006. It was chosen to mark the anniversary of first World Hindi Conference organized in 1975 which was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi in Nagpur. The first conference was attended by 122 delegates from 30 countries where then Mauritius Prime Minister Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was the chief guest.

Hindi is the fourth most spoken language of the world. It is mother tongue of around 258 million people across the world. It is spoken in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, UK, USA, New Zealand, Germany, Uganda, UAE, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, South Africa and Mauritius. The language is spoken by more than 43 core people in the world.

The Pacific island country, Fiji also has adopted Hindi as an official language.

However, World Hindi Day and National Hindi Diwas are completely different. National Hindi Diwas is celebrated every year on September 14. On that day in 1949, the constituent assembly adopted Hindi, written in Devanagari script, as the official language of the Union.

Origin of Hindi: The word was transferred from the Sanskrit language “Sindhu”. The word “Sindhu” became “Hindu” after Iranians entered India.

Economics

Freight Business Development Portal: It is the first-of- its-kind Indian Railways dedicated Freight portal. The portal is one stop solution for all the needs of freight customers. It was launched recently by the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.

The portal will replace physical processes with online ones to minimize the need of human-to-human interaction. It will also bring more transparency and provide professional support.

The personalized dashboard of freight business portal provides customers a view with their business in railways, outstanding indents, on-run consignments, status of various interactions and facility to apply for various services and raising concerns.

Customers also get to know about discount schemes,  demurrage, diversion, rebooking and wharfage waivers, stacking permissions.

Toycathon-2021: The Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Union Minister Women and Child Development and Textiles Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani jointly launched Toycathon-2021 and the Toycathon Portal.

Toycathon is being organized with an objective to develop India as the global Toy manufacturing hub.

Toycathon aims to provide a platform to conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate the positive behavior and good value among the children. Here the students and teachers from schools and colleges, design experts, toy experts and startups will get together to crowd source ideas for developing toys and games that are based on Indian culture & ethos and local folklore & heroes.

These will not only help India develop into a global hub for toys and games, but it will also help the children to understand the ethos and values of Indian culture as envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020.

The Toycathon is based on nine themes:

  1. Indian Culture
  2. History
  3. Knowledge of India and Ethos
  4. Learning, Education and Schooling
  5. Occupations & specific fields
  6. Social and human values
  7. Environment
  8. Divyang
  9. Fitness and sport

 

LEI: It refers to the Legal Entity Identifier: The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has recently introduced LEI for for payment transactions above Rs 50 crore including Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT).

This will come into effect from April 01, 2021.

The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a 20-digit number used to uniquely identify parties to financial transactions worldwide.

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

Defence

Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff, a four-star admiral, commands the navy. Indian Navy was founded on 26 January 1950. The current Chief of Navy Staff (CNS) is Karambir singh.

Recently, in a major push to Make-in-India initiative, the Indian Navy signed a contract with the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), to procure Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Dazzlers (Laser Dazzlers). The initial agreement has been signed for 20 Laser Dazlers.

The Laser dazzler technology has been developed by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and would be manufactured by BEL, Pune plant.

It is the first time that this unique product is indigenously designed and developed for the Armed Forces.

Laser Dazzler:

It is a non-lethal weapon for warning and stopping suspicious vehicles/boats/aircraft/UAVs/pirates etc. from approaching secured areas during both night and day.

It is capable of dazzle and thereby suppress the person’s/optical sensor’s action with disability glare in case of non-compliance to orders.

This technology can not only disorient/ confuse/ blind a person temporarily but it can also dazzle and distract aircraft/UAVs.

It is a portable, shoulder operated and ruggedized for military use in adverse environmental conditions and it is for the first time that this product has been designed and developed indigenously for the Indian Armed Force.

BEL: It refers to the Bharat Electronics Limited. BEL was founded in 1954 and is headquartered in Bengaluru. Its current Chairman & Managing Director is M V Gowtama.

GRSE: It refers to the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers which is based in Kolkata, West Bengal. The current GRSE Chairman & Managing Director is Rear Admiral V K Saxena

Recently, GRSE delivered the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK IV class vessel ‘IN LCU L-58’ (Yard 2099) to the Indian Navy.

The amphibious ships are to be based in the strategic location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which are close to various routes leading to the South China Sea.

LCU L-58 is the final ship in the series of 8 LCUs being manufactured by GRSE for the Indian Navy.

LCU Ship: The LCU ships are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. They were developed in-house with 90% of its parts indigenously manufactured.

These ships are very unique in their design and class in the world. Apart from troops, each ship can accommodate main battle tanks, personnel carriers and other Army vehicles, which can be launched on the beaches.

The ships are designed to have two indigenous CRN 91 guns to provide artillery fire support during landing operations.

Subodh Kumar Jaiswal: He was recently appointed as new chief of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). He took over as the new Director General of the force on January 8, 2021. Prior to CISF, Jaiswal was serving as Director General of Police of Maharashtra.

CISF: It stands for Central Industrial security force.  CISF, an armed force of the Union established in its present form on 15 June 1983 is a Central Armed Police Force in India. It was set up under an Act of the Parliament of India on 10 March 1969 with a strength of 2,800. CISF was subsequently made an armed force of India by another Act of Parliament passed on 15 June 1983. CISF is mandated to provide security to the premises staff along with the security of property and establishments. It is governed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and is headquartered in New Delhi. It is the only force with a customized and dedicated fire wing.

Environment

Bird Flu: The bird flu or the Avian Influenza is a contagious viral disease caused by Influenza Type A virus. It usually affects poultry birds such as chickens and turkeys. There are several types of Influenza Type A virus. Some of the virus may cause low egg production and others result in early cracking of egg shells, while others are severe and lethal.

Wild aquatic birds such as geese and ducks are the natural reservoir of Influenza A viruses and the central players in the ecology of these viruses.

Recently, thousands of ducks have died due to birt flu in Kerala (mostly poultry), wild Geese (migratory birds) in Himachal Pradesh, and crows in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In Haryana, around one lakh poultry birds have died mysteriously in the last few days.

Authorities have issued advisories to contain the spread of avian influenza. or bird flu, They have asked all states to keep a close vigil to detect any unusual bird death as the Centre confirmed the outbreak has been reported from at least four states.

History of bird flu infecting humans: The humans were first known to have contracted with bird flu in 1997. The H5N1 strain was the first Influenza virus to infect humans. It occurred following an outbreak in a live bird market in Hong Kong. Subsequently, several other strains of the virus such as H5N2 and H9N2 spread from animals to humans, thus becoming a global public health concern.

However, according to WHO (World Health Organization) the H5N1 does not spread from person to person and there are no evidences that the virus can spread through properly cooked poultry. The virus is highly sensitive to heat and dies in cooking temperature.

NCAVES: It refers to the Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services. The NCAVES India Forum-2021 is being organized by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

The NCAVES Project is funded by EU. It has been jointly implemented by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD).

India along with Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico is taking part in this project.

In India, the NCAVES project is being implemented by the MoSPI in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).

The participation in the project has helped MOSPI commence the compilation of the Environment Accounts as per the UN-SEEA framework.

MOSPI has also released environmental accounts in its publication “EnviStats India” on an annual basis since 2018.

Under the NCAVES project the India-EVL Tool has been developed which is essentially a look-up tool giving a snapshot of the values of various ecosystem services in the different States of the country. It will be based on about 80 studies conducted across the country.

An additional benefit of this tool is that it provides a critical view on the literature that is available and the applicability of estimates spatially across India according to bio-geographical areas.

NCAVES Project: Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) is a European Union funded project. The project has been launched by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the European Union (EU).

Its aim is to assist the f5 participating partner countries, namely India, Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa, to advance the knowledge agenda on environmental-economic accounting, in particular ecosystem accounting.

SC-NBWL: It refers to the Standing Committee of National Board of Wildlife. The SC-NBWL has recently approved the advisory for management of Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) in the country.

The approval was given in its 60th meeting. The key measures approved by the advisory are as follows:

  1. Empowering gram panchayats in dealing with the problematic wild animals as per the section 11 (1) (b) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  2. Utilizing add-on coverage under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna for crop compensation against crop damage due to HWC.
  3. Augmenting fodder and water sources within the forest areas.
  4. Payment of a portion of ex-gratia as interim relief within 24 hours of the incident to the victim/family.
  5. Prescribing inter-departmental committees at local/state level.
  6. Adoption of early warning systems
  7. Creation of barriers
  8. Dedicated circle wise Control Rooms with toll free hotline numbers which could be operated on 24X7 basis.
  9. Identification of hotspots and formulation and implementation of special plans for improved stall-fed farm animals etc.
  10. Inclusion of Caracal, a medium size wild cat found in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, into the list of critically endangered species

Now, there are 22 wildlife species under recovery programme for critically endangered species.

Caracal: It is a medium-sized wild cat native to India, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. It is typically nocturnal and is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is a carnivore and mainly lives alone or in pairs. It is characterized by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears and long canine teeth.

The Caracals were tamed and used for hunting in ancient Egypt. In India, the caracal occurs in Sariska Tiger Reserve and Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.

NBWL: It refers to the National Board for Wildlife. NBWL is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It was constituted in 2003. The board is advisory in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country. It is a very important body because it serves as apex body to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries. No alternation of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without approval of the NBWL. The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister and is responsible for promotion of conservation and development of wildlife and forests. The standing committee of NBWL is chaired by the Minister of Environment Forest and Climate Change.

Indian Policy

NIXI: It refers to the National Internet Exchange of India. NIXI recently announced its decision to offer free Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) in any of the 22 official Indian languages with every IN domain booked by the registrant.

The offer will be valid for new in. users who register up to January 31, 2021. The applicant will also get a free email in the local language. This offer is valid for new .in users who register up to 31st of January. The offer will also stand for the existing in users who renew their domain in January 2021.

This offer has been created to stimulate the adoption of भारत IDN domain name and proliferation of local language content.

About: NIXI is a not for profit Organization established under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013 in 2003. It was set up for spreading the internet technology to the citizens of India through the following activities:

  • Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISPs and between ISPs and CDNs.
  • IN Registry managing and operation of IN country code domain and भारत IDN domain for India. 
  • Indian Registry for Internet Names and Numbers (IRINN).
  • Managing and operating Internet protocol IPv4 or IPv6.

Draft Arctic policy: The Government of India (GoI) recently released a draft Arctic Policy.

The Draft Arctic Policy document ensures that the Arctic resources become more accessible and are explored and used sustainably. Under its policy, India will make sure that it abides by rules and regulations of Arctic Council.

India became the observer of Arctic Council in 2013 and its membership as an observer was renewed in 2018 for another five years.

India also seeks to play a constructive role in the Arctic by leveraging its vast scientific pool and expertise in Himalayan and Polar research.

The draft document outlines five pillars of India’s Arctic policy. They are as follows:

  1. Science and Research
  2. Transportation and Connectivity
  3. National Capacity building
  4. Economic and Human Development
  5. Governance and International Cooperation

The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) that operates under the Ministry of Earth Sciences will serve as the nodal agency in implementing the Arctic Policy.

The policy envisages connecting the Arctic residents, especially the indigenous communities with those living in the Himalayan regions.

The main aim of the policy is to create opportunities where the Indian enterprises can be involved to become part of the international commerce businesses and promote traditional indigenous knowledge.

The Arctic Policy seeks to help India achieve its SDGs as Policy has been synchronised and adapted to the Goal 11 of Sustainable Development Goals. The Goal 11 of SDG is “Sustainable cities and Communities”.

India & Arctic Research: India under British rule had signed the Svalbard Treaty in 1920 in Paris. This treaty allowed free access to the Arctic region along with the commitment of not militarizing it.

Independent India launched its first scientific expedition to Arctic in 2007.

In 2008, India established a research base called Himadri at Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Norway.

In 2014, India deployed IndArc. It is a multisensory observatory in Kongsfjorden.

In 2016, India set up Gruvebadet Atmospheric Laboratry at Ny Alesund, Svalbard.

Arctic Council: The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic Indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

The first step towards the formation of the Council occurred in 1991 when the eight Arctic countries signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS).

The council was created in Ottawa in 1996 by the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council (the Ottawa Declaration). The standing Arctic Council Secretariat formally became operational in 2013 in Tromsø, Norway.

Member states of the council include Denmark, Canada, Norway, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The council also has a number of permanent participants drawn from groups that represent communities and peoples indigenous to the Arctic. Outside these, there are some observer states, Indigenous "permanent participants", and observer organizations.

The Arctic Council with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants works as a consensus-based body to deal with issues such as the change in biodiversity, melting sea ice, plastic pollution and black carbon.

As of May 2019, thirteen non-Arctic states have Observer status.

  • Germany, 1998
  • Netherlands, 1998
  • Poland, 1998
  • United Kingdom, 1998
  • France, 2000
  • Spain, 2006
  • China, 2013
  • India, 2013
  • Italy, 2013
  • Japan, 2013
  • South Korea, 2013
  • Singapore, 2013
  • Switzerland, 2017

Observer status: This status is open to non-Arctic states, along with inter-governmental, inter-parliamentary, global, regional and non-governmental organizations that the Council determines can contribute to its work. It is approved by the Council at the Ministerial Meetings that occur once every two years.

School Bag Policy: Delhi Government recently directed schools in the national capital to implement the New School Bag Policy 2020 in Schools.

In line with the School Bag Policy 2020, the state government has prescribed weight limits for school bags for students of different classes.

The Union Human Resource Development Ministry had formed the guidelines in 2016 to ensure students do not get bogged down with the burden of carrying heavy bags to schools.

School Bag Policy that has been designed by an expert committee, recommends that the weight of school bags for students between Class 1 and Class 10 should not be more than 10 per cent of their body weight.

The guidelines were framed after it was observed that the load of school bag is increased by bringing textbooks, guides, homework and class work notebooks, rough work notebooks, water bottles, lunch box, and sometimes heavy school bags also.

As per the guidelines schools are required to follow the textbooks prescribed by the SCERT, NCERT and CBSE.

Considering the serious threat to health posed by heavy school bags, the Delhi Government has decided to implement the policy in the state.

Indian polity

Bagasara Prant: The Chief Minister Of Gujarat Vijay Rupani has decided to create a new Bagasara Prant in Amreli district. This will take the state’s revenue services nearer to the people and provide services faster.

The newly created Bagasara Prant would come into effect on 26th January, which includes Bagasara and Vadiya talukas in it.

Since the districts with larger geographical areas cause inconvenience to the people, the state government has been reorganizing smaller districts and talukas for administrative convenience, faster development, reducing workload as well as saving the people's time.

Now, the state government has taken up the reorganization of Prants.

Prants: Prants are traditional names for parts of historical regions, such as the original ten regions of Kathiawad on Saurashtra peninsula in Gujarat.

Gujarat: Gujarat is a state on the western coast of India most of which lies on the Kathiawar peninsula. The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the northeast, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu to the south, Maharashtra to the southeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and the Arabian Sea and the Pakistani province of Sindh to the west. Its capital city is Gandhinagar. The Governor and Chief Minister of Gujarat are Acharya Devvrat and Vijay Rupani respectively.

Justice Vineet Kothari: Justice Vineet Kothari recently took oath as a Judge in Gujarat High Court. He was previously an Acting Chief Justice in Madras High Court.

He was transferred to Gujarat High Court on recommendation of a five Judge collegium led by the Chief Justice of India.

He was elevated as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in 2005 and was transferred to Karnataka in 2016.

 He had assumed charge as the senior-most judge of the Madras High Court on 23rd November, 2018 and had served as its Additional Chief Justice immediately after former Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani resigned in September 2019 and once again after the retirement of Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi.

International

Gibraltar: Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory which means it is under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom but is not technically a part of it. (There are 14 British Overseas Territories in the world including Bermuda and the Falkland Islands.) It is a heavily fortified British air and naval base that guards the Strait of Gibraltar, which is the only entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. Since the 18th century, Gibraltar has been a symbol of British naval strength, and it is commonly known in that context as “the Rock.”

Recently, hours before the Brexit transition period ended on New Year’s Eve, Spain announced it had struck a deal with the UK to maintain free movement to and from Gibraltar.

Spain and the U.K. struck a last-minute deal over Gibraltar that eases access to the territory and removes the threat of fresh restrictions at the border with the European Union once Britain leaves the bloc on 1st January.

Madrid and London were engaged for months in diplomatic negotiations over the post-Brexit future of Gibraltar. Now this deal ensures that Gibraltar is not separated from Europe from a hard border.

Brexit left Gibraltar with a hard border situation with the EU. With the UK-Spain Deal, officially remaining a British Overseas Territory, Gibraltar will now be part of the Schengen zone and follow EU rules, thus ensuring that a hard border does not separate it from the rest of Europe.

Note: The name Gibraltar is derived from Arabic word Jabal Tariq translated as Mount of Tariq. Gibraltar is most famous for The Rock of Gibraltar, a 426 meter high limestone rock rising out of the sea. The rock can be seen for many miles. It is home to the Barbary Apes, a type of tail-less macaque which are the only wild monkeys in Europe.

Central African Republic: The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west. The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west.

Recently, Faustin-Archange Touadera was re-elected as the president of the Central African Republic with more than 53% votes.

The 63-year-old president has been in power since 2016 but has struggled to seize control of vast parts of the nation from armed militias.

Note: The Central African Republic, a producer of gold and diamonds, has a population of 4.7 million.

World Braille Day: World Braille Day is observed on 4th January across the world since 2019. The day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people.

The Braille language was first meant to be used for military purposes, and was developed by Charles Barbier. However, it had two significant drawbacks, which were identified by Louis Braille. Instead of using the 12-dot symbol, Braille advised using 6-dot symbol code. After a few modifications and additions, the expanded English system, named Grade-2 Braille, was completed in 1905.

In 1918, the United Nations (UN) conceptualized the idea of observing January 4 as World Braille Day and marks the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille – for people with visual disabilities. Hence, the first observance of World Braille Day took place in 2019.  

Louis Braille: Louis Braille was born on 4th January 1809 in the town of Coupvray in northern France. At the age of just 3, he lost his both eyes in an accident. This resulted into the invention of the of 6 dots- which is popularly known as braille.

Braille: Braille is a tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number, and even musical, mathematical and scientific symbols. Braille (named after its inventor in 19th century France, Louis Braille) is used by blind and partially sighted people to read the same books and periodicals as those printed in a visual font.

Braille is essential in the context of education, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as social inclusion, as reflected in article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

UN Security Council: The Permanent Representative of India to the UN, T S Tirumurti recently announced that India has been asked to chair 3 important committees of the UN Security Council (UNSC), during its tenure as a non-permanent member of the powerful 15-nation UN body.

The 3 committees are:

  1. Taliban Sanctions Committee
  2. Counter-Terrorism Committee
  3. Libyan Sanctions Committee

Among these, India will chair the Counter-Terrorism Committee of UNSC in 2022, which coincides with the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

India began its two-year term at UNSC from January 01, 2021. It is the eighth time that the country has joined UNSC as the non-permanent member.

In 2021, along with India, Norway, Kenya, Ireland and Mexico joined as non-permanent members in the Council.

National

India-France: The annual India-France strategic dialogue was held on the 7th of January 2021. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval  will lead the Indian delegation while the French delegation was led by Mr. Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor to the French President.

The two sides held discussions on wide-ranging bilateral and global issues.

The main focus of discussions were COVID-19 vaccine, nuclear, space, Indo-Pacific area, maritime safety, environment, digital economy, cybersecurity, counter-terrorism and defence sectors.

Note: The India-France strategic dialogue is held annually with the two countries alternating as hosts. The last edition of the annual Strategic Dialogue was held in Paris in February 2020.

India and Japan: India and Japan have had a long and fruitful history of bilateral development cooperation since 1958. In the last few years, the economic cooperation between both the countries has strengthened and grown into a strategic partnership. The people of India and Japan are guided by common cultural traditions including the heritage of Buddhism and share a strong commitment to the ideals of democracy, tolerance, pluralism and open societies.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the signing of an agreement to institutionalize a mechanism for cooperation between India and Japan in sending and accepting skilled Indian workers, who have qualified the skill and Japanese language test.

Under the MoC (Memorandum of Cooperation):

Skilled labour will be sent to Japan by India. These Indian workers would be granted a new status of residence of 'Specified Skilled Worker' by the Government of Japan.

These skilled Indian workers can work in fourteen specified sectors in Japan.

The 14 sectors are:

  1. Industrial machinery
  2. Building cleaning
  3. Nursing care
  4. Material processing industry
  5. Electric and electronic information related industry Industrial machinery manufacturing industry
  6. Shipbuilding and ship-related industry
  7. Construction
  8. Automobile maintenance
  9. Aviation
  10. Lodging
  11. Fisheries
  12. Agriculture
  13. Food and beverages manufacturing industries,
  14. Food service industry

A joint working group will be set up under the memorandum of cooperation to follow up its implementation.

On a basic framework for partnership pertaining to "Specified Skilled Worker" between India and Japan will enhance people-to-people contacts, foster mobility of workers and skilled professionals.

SAGE: It is a high-level group, named the South Asia Group for Energy (SAGE). SAGE was recently constituted by the Government of India (GoI) to build a South Asia-focused energy security architecture.

The high level group will be headed by former Union Power Secretary Ram Vinay Shahi.

SAGE has been set up under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)-run think tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS).

The main objective of setting of Sage is to achieve a balanced and optimal development of energy infrastructure through mutual understanding and cooperation, by promoting, initiating and facilitating effective policy dialogue and capacity building on a bilateral, sub-regional and regional basis for energy and related issues, among South Asian countries.

The other members of SAGE are:

  • Amar Sinha, former economic relations secretary in the MEA and India’s former ambassador to Afghanistan
  • Preeti Saran, former secretary east in MEA
  • Chandan Kumar Mondol, director commercial at NTPC Ltd, India’s largest power generation utility
  • Rakesh Nath, former Chairman of Central Electricity Authority, the apex power sector planning body
  • Anil Sardana, Managing Director, Adani Power
  • Deepak Amitabh, Chairman and managing director, PTC India Ltd, the country’s largest electricity trader.

International Akhand Conference ‘EDUCON-2020’: The Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ recently inaugurated the two-day Virtual International Akhand Conference ‘EDUCON 2020’ through video conferencing.

The two-day International Conference was organized by the Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (CUPB) in collaboration with the Global Educational Research Association (GERA).

The focal theme of EDUCON-2020 is Envisioning Education for Transforming Youth to Restore Global Peace.

This 31-long marthon International Conference was the first of its kind in India where scholars across the world would be continuously explored the possibilities of the use of ICT (Information and communications technology) in the higher education to promote the equitable quality education in India.

In addition, the conference acted as a platform for discussions on emerging trends in education viz., likely scenario of higher education and school education by 2050, developing disruptive technologies for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Education, training youth for strategic future jobs in Universities, the skill training programme for future graduates and relevance of ancient education system in 21st century.

The deliberations made during EDUCON2020 by internationally-acclaimed speakers & young researchers seeks to prove to be significant in preparing a roadmap for effective implementation of NEP-2020 and developing necessary skill-set among youngsters to enable them to contribute towards building an AtmaNirbhar Bharat.

National Metrology Conclave 2021: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently addressed the National Metrology Conclave, via video conferencing. It was organized on January 04, 2021 by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), New Delhi, to mark its 75th year of inception.

The theme for 2021 was ‘Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation’.

PM Modi, as a part of this conclave,  also dedicated ‘National Atomic Timescale’, and ‘Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya’ to the nation, and laid the foundation stone of the ‘National Environmental Standards Laboratory’.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas: The day is also called NRI Day. It is celebrated every year on January 9th to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community in the development of India.

The main aim of celebrating the day is to provide a platform for NRI to express their perceptions about India and thereby involve them in Indian developmental activities.

The theme of 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention 2021 is “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat”.

History of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas: The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated on the 9th of January as Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa on this day in 1915. In 2015, the day was declared biennial. In 2018, the day was widely celebrated in Singapore. In 2019, the event was celebrated in Varanasi.

People In News

US President-elect Joe Biden: US President-elect Joe Biden recently appointed two Indian-Americans to the National Security Council of the White House.

He named Indian-American Sumona Guha as senior director for South Asia and Tarun Chhabra as senior director for Technology and National Security.

Sumona Guha: She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. She is currently serving as senior vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group. She was co-chair of the South Asia foreign policy working group during the Biden-Harris campaign. During the Obama-Biden administration, she was special advisor for national security affairs to the then Vice President Biden.

Tarun Chhabra: He is an alumnus of Stanford University, Oxford University and Harvard Law School. He is a senior fellow at the Centre for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University. He had also served on the National Security Council staff as director for Strategic Planning and director for Human Rights and National Security Issues during the Obama-Biden Administration.

Zoya Aggarwal: She is the captain of the all-women flight crew who created a historic moment for aviation and historic moment for India.

The first non-stop flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru  landed at Kempegowda International airport in Bengaluru at 3.07 am on 11th January 2021. The inaugural flight AI176 flew over the North Pole and covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometers which was the longest aerial distance between San Francisco and Bengaluru. 

The flight operated by an all-women cockpit crew of Captain Zoya Aggarwal, Captain Papagari Thanmai, Captain Akansha Sonaware and Captain Shivani Manhas flew the longest commercial flight in the world..

Joyshree Das Verma: She has recently been appointed by the Embassy of Israel in India as Honorary Consul in the North East with jurisdiction over the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim.

She will be based in Assam. The appointment was announced by Ambassador of Israel in India Ron Malka.

Malala Yousafzai: She is a Pakistani activist for female education. Malala is also the Youngest Nobel Prize Laureate and she fought against the Taliban for women education. The Taliban had banned girls from attending schools. She was shot by Pakistani Taliban Gunman on October by 2012, in retaliation for her activism. She was hit in the head with bullet and remind unconscious. She was later transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Recently, The US (United States) Congress passed the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act for Pakistani Women. The bill was passed by the United States Senate by a voice vote on January 1. The bill now heads to the White House for US President Donald Trump to sign into law.

Highlights of Act:

  • The Act requires the US Agency for International Development to award at least 50% of scholarship under a Pakistan-based higher education scholarship programme to Pakistani women between 2020 and 2022, across a range of academic disciplines and in accordance with existing eligibility criteria.
  • The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act makes it mandatory for the USAID to brief the US Congress about the number of scholarships provided under the programme. This includes percentage of recipients who are involuntarily pushed out of the programme for their failure to meet programme requirements as well.
  • It also requires the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to consult with and leverage investments by Pakistani private sector in the United States of America.

This is being done to improve and expand access to education programs in entire Pakistan.

Since 2010, the USAID has awarded more than 6,000 scholarships for young women to receive higher education in Pakistan.

Note: On October 10, 2014, Malala shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi for her "struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education".

Places In News

Karnataka: It is a state in the south western region of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, with the passage of the States Reorganization Act. Originally known as the State of Mysore, it was renamed Karnataka in 1973. Its capital city is Bangalore. The current Chief Minister and Governor of Karnataka are B. S. Yediyurappa and Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala respectively.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yediyurappa flagged off 40 Krishi Sanjeevani vans in Bengaluru.

These vans have been launched by the state Agriculture Department with Central assistance under National Krishi Vikas Yojana to take up this novel programme.

The main objective of the initiative is to take labs to the agriculture fields to study the conditions and address the needs of the farmers about  the fertility of the soil, pest control, weeds and suitable crops in the existing conditions so that farmers get support for their farming techniques.

The Agriculture Department personnel will also be able to suggest remedies, depending on the soil, water and pests inflicting the crops.

Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana: It is a State Plan Scheme launched by the Government of India (GoI) in August 2007 as part of the 11th Five Year Plan. The yojana launched under the aegis of the National Developmental Council aims at achieving 4% annual growth in agriculture as well as its allied sectors.

Journalist Day: The Journalist Day is observed by Maharashtra state government on 6th January every year. This day celebrated in the memory of late journalist Balshastri Jambhekar.

The first newspaper in the Marathi language named ‘Darpan’, was published on January 6, 1832, the date which also marks the birth anniversary of Balshastri Jambhekar.

Balshastri Jambhekar: Balshastri Jambhekar, born on 6 January 1812, is also known as ‘The Father of Marathi Journalism’, for his efforts in starting journalism in Marathi language, in the form of first Marathi newspaper and first Marathi monthly.

Maharashtra: Maharashtra is a state in the western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. It was formed on 1 May 1960 by merging the western and south-western parts of the Bombay State, Berar and Vidarbha, and the north-western parts of the Hyderabad State and splitting Saurashtra (in present-day Gujarat) by the States Reorganisation Act. Its capital is Mumbai. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Maharashtra are  Uddhav Thackeray and Bhagat Singh Koshyari respectively.

Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Pradesh (MP) is the second largest Indian state by area. It borders the states of Uttar Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the southeast, Maharashtra to the south, Gujarat to the west, and Rajasthan to the northwest. Its capital is Bhopal. The current Chief Minister and Governor of Madhya Pradesh is Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Lal Ji Tandon respectively.

Recently, the MP Government launched a ‘Launch Pad Scheme’ for the boys and girls coming out of child care institutions and having completed 18 years of age.

This scheme has been launched by the Women and Child Development Department of the state with an aim to provide a platform to these youth, through which they will be able to become self-reliant by continuing their education and training.

Key Highlights of the scheme:

  1. The District Administration will provide space to these youths for the opening of stationery, photocopying, computer typing, coffee shops and DTP work.
  2. All the fifty two districts of the state have been divided into five clusters with headquarters at Indore, Sagar, Bhopal, Gwalior and Jabalpur.
  3. An amount of Rs 6 lakh will be provided by the Women and Child Development Department for the installation of each launch pad.
  4. These launch pads will be operated through non-governmental organizations.

Science and Technology

QRNG: It refers to Quantum Random Number Generator. The DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory for Quantum Technologies (DYSL-QT), a DRDO facility based in Mumbai, has recently developed a QRNG. It has the ability to detect random quantum events and convert those into a stream of binary digits.

The facility has developed a fiber-optic branch path based QRNG.

The branch path based QRNG is based on the principle that if a single photon falls on a balanced beam splitter, it will take either of the beam-splitter output paths randomly

As the path chosen by photon is random, the randomness is translated to sequence of binary digits, also called bits.

QRNG system developed by the laboratory has passed the global randomness testing standards including NIST and Die-harder Statistical Test Suites at the speed of ~150 kbps after post-processing.

With this development India has entered the club of countries who have the technology to achieve the generation of random numbers based on the Quantum phenomenon.

Random Numbers: Random numbers play an important role in many fields, such as quantum communication, scientific simulation, cryptography (key generation, key packaging, identity verification, etc.), lotteries and fundamental physics experiments.

The generation of genuine randomness is generally considered impossible with classical means. Quantum mechanics has the inherent potential to provide real random numbers, so it has become the first choice for scientific applications that require randomness.

DYSL-QT: It is one of the five YSLs (Young Scientist Laboratories) of the DRDO which are working on five different technologies.

The other four facilities are:

  1. Cognitive Technologies (DYSL-CT) Chennai
  2. Artificial Intelligence (DYSL-AI) Bengaluru
  3. Asymmetric Technologies (DYSL-AT) Kolkata
  4. Smart Materials (DYSL-SM) Hyderabad.

These 5 facilities were dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister in January this year.

Advanced Biodigester MK-II Technology: A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU0 was recently inked  between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MAHA –METRO) through which DRDO will render technical support for the implementation of its advanced biodigester Mk-II technology for the treatment of human waste (night soil) in the metro rail network.

The DRDO and MAHA –METRO are working together to conserve water and protect the environment by installing DRDO's eco-friendly biodigester units (a non-sewered sanitation technology) in its facilities.

This biodigester by DRDO is an indigenous, green and cost-effective technology, with a rare distinction of having one of the largest numbers of DRDO-licensees (ToT holders).

Around 2.40 lakh biodigesters have already been installed by Indian Railways in its fleet of passenger coaches.

As for now, the technology for MAHA-METRO has been revamped and further improved in a bid to save the water and space.

40th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica: India recently launched 40th scientific expedition to Antarctica.

This Indian expedition which marks four decades of country’s scientific endeavor to the southern white continent was flagged off from Goa on January 5, 2021, with 43 members onboard.

The chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin made this journey and will reach Antarctica in 30 days. After leaving behind a team of 40 members, it would return to India in April 2021.

On return, it will also bring back the winter team of the preceding trip.

Note: The Indian Antarctic expeditions began in 1981. The first trip comprised of a team of 21 scientists and support staff led by Dr SZ Qasim. The Indian Antarctic programme has built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica—named Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri, and Bharati.

At present, India has two operational research stations in Antarctica named Maitri and Bharati.

The entire Indian Antarctic program is managed by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa.

The main aim of planning this expedition is to provide support to the ongoing scientific projects on geology, climate change, electric and magnetic flux measurements, ocean observations, environmental monitoring. This mission will also felicitate the return journey of winter crew by resupplying the of fuel and food.

The expedition will strictly follow all the required protocols for the deployment of materials and men as per COMNAP.

COMNAP is the abbreviation for Council of Managers of National Antarctic Program.

Sports

 Assam Rifles Public School: Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijiju recently launched the Assam Rifles Public School (ARPS) in Shillong as a Khelo India Sports School on 4th January 2021. It is now recognized as a Khelo India Sports School and is the first centre in the northeast under the Khelo India scheme.

This School was designated as a Khelo India Sports School because of the following features:

It has a good track record in academics & sports, adequate boarding & lodging (hostel) facilities,

It has sufficient space to develop sports facilities and inclination to develop Olympic sports under an inter-ministerial partnership between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Government proposes to bear the expenses for Talented Sports Students of the school in terms of lodging, boarding, education expenses, competition exposure, insurance & medical, sports training & support, salary of coaches & support staff, sports equipment, and more.

At present, 9 Sports Schools have been approved across the country, out of which 5 are managed by Defence & Para-military forces.

The objective of a Khelo India Sports School is to integrate sports with education and in the process, develop sports in the country and improve the overall profile and outlook of athletes. This will also help in the identification and upliftment of talent from North-eastern, rural or tribal areas.

Khelo India Ice Hockey Tournament: The Khelo India Ice Hockey Tournament was recently organized at Chiktan in Kàrgil, Ladakh.

For the first time, alongwith 11 teams from different villages of Chiktan, two women team of Chiktan also participated in the Khelo India Games in Kargil district.

The tournament was inaugurated by SDM Shakar Chiktan and the Chief Guest of the event Kacho Asgar Ali khan in the presence of ZPEO Chiktan Ghulam Rasool along with in-charge police post-Chiktan.

Claire Polosak: She is a 32-year-old Australian from New South Wales who is set to become the first female match official in a men’s Test match when she takes up the fourth umpire’s role in the third Test between India and Australia.

She has already earned the distinction of being the first woman on-field umpire in a men’s ODI match in ICC’s Division 2 league between Namibia and Oman played at the Windhoek in 2019.

Note: As per ICC rules for Test matches, the fourth umpire is appointed by the home cricket board from their nominees to the International Panel of ICC Umpires and from the host country.

Fourth Umpire: The duties of a fourth umpire include bringing on the new ball, carrying drinks on to the field for the umpires, checking the batteries in the light meter, observing the pitch during the lunch and tea intervals to make sure there is no interference, and bringing on new bails.

The fourth umpire can also take over the third umpire’s position if something happens to one of the on-field umpires, in which case the third umpire takes over on-field duties.

Current Affairs December 27 to January 03

Arts

Thermopolium: It means hot drinks counter in Latin. Researchers have recently unearthed a thermopolium in the Roman empire town of Pompeii which is one of the world’s largest and most significant archaeological sites currently.

The snack food counter called the thermopolium at the Pompeii archaeological park’s Regio V was partially excavated in 2019. It was found complete with an image of a Nereid riding a sea-horse, decorative still-life frescoes, food residues, animal’s bones and victims who died during the volcanic eruption of 79 CE.

It is also the first time an entire thermopolium has been excavated, complete with pateras, or bronze drinking bowls, ceramic jars used for cooking stews and soups, wine flasks etc.

The find is of great significant as it shows the variety of food consumed by the residents of the town. Traces of pork, snails, beef and fish have been found in the containers of the stall.

Pompeii: Pompeii is a vast archaeological site in southern Italy’s Campania region, near the coast of the Bay of Naples. It was once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city. It was buried under meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. over 2000 years ago. Around 2000 to 15000 people were killed.

Archeologists continue to make discoveries till now.

Monpa Handmade Paper: It is a 1000-year old heritage art of Arunachal Pradesh. It was driven to the extinction in the last 100 years. However, with the committed efforts of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) the art of making Monpa handmade paperhas come to life once again.

KVIC recently commissioned a Monpa handmade paper making unit in Tawang which is not only aimed at reviving the art but also engaging the local youths with this art professionally and earn. The unit was inaugurated by KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena in presence of local people and officials.

The revival of handmade pottery will be taken up on priority under Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana.

This is a local product with great global potential, which is aligned with the Mantra of "Local to Global" given by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi.

History: The art of making Monpa handmade paper originated over 1000 years ago. Gradually the art became an integral part of local custom and culture in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. This handmade paper was a major source of livelihood for the locals.

It is a fine-textured handmade paper. It is called Mon Shugu in the local dialect and is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang.

The Monpa handmade paper will be made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng, which has medicinal values too.

The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries. These papers were being sold in the countries like Japan, Thailand, Bhutan and Tibet as paper making industry did not exist in these countries but the local sector gradually declined as the indigenous handmade paper was taken over by inferior Chinese paper.

Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana: It is an initiative of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) for the empowerment of the potter’s community in the remotest of locations in the country. The program reaches out to the potters in Maharashtra, J&K, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Telangana Bihar and Assam.

Pandit Satish Vyas: He is a renowned santoor player who was conferred the prestigious Tansen Samman on the occassion of the 96th Tansen Music Festival. He was honoured at the inaugural ceremony which began in Gwalior with strict COVID-19 guidelines in place.

Abhinav Kala Parishad which is a Bhopal-based institution was honoured with Raja Mansingh Tomar award.

The festival pays tribute to Tansen, one of 9 gems in Akbar’s court.

Books and Authors: A book titled “Vahana Masterclass” was recently launched by Alfredo Covelli, an Italy based author for children and Young Audience.

The books will be illustrated and published by Scholastic India.

Alfredo, due to his keen interest in Indian culture and mythology was inspired to write a story on Lord Ganesh for children.

About the Book: The book narrates the story of the Ganesha looking for a new vahana to accompany him to all the great adventures around the cosmos.

After millenniums of service, the great VahanaMushika, holy mount of Lord Ganesha is about to retire to live the rest of his life in meditation.

For this reason, 4 young mice (3 months each) are selected from different parts of India. They are:

  1. Intelligent Anand from Kolkata (selected by Goddess Kali)
  2. Devoted Kanu from Gujarat (selected by Lord Krishna)
  3. Brave Karthik from Chennai (selected by the other Vahanas)
  4. Compassionate Gitanjali from Uttarakhand (selected by Prakriti, nature).

Alfredo Covelli: Born in 1979, Alfredo Covelli is an Italian writer, screenwriter, film producer and teacher, and novelist working worldwide and based in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

Economics

DFC: It refers to the Dedicated Freight Corridor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated a 351-km section between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh for commercial operations of the DFC. He also dedicated to the nation a state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre in Prayagraj.

The DFC consists of two arms. The first section launched recently is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC that starts at Sohnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal. The other arm is the around 1,500-km Western DFC from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai, touching all major ports along the way.

The 351-km section stretches between Khurja, the 12th stop after Sohnewal in the North, to New Bhaupur, near Kanpur.

The other stretches are Sohnewal to Khurja (365 km), Bhaupur to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay (Mughalsarai) (400 km), then to Sonnagar in West Bengal (137 km), then to Dankuni via Gomoh in Jharkhand (538 km).

A section between Dadri and Khurja to connect the Eastern and Western arms is also under construction.

Built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore is important as around 70% of the freight trains currently running on the Indian Railway network are slated to shift to the freight corridors, leaving the paths open for more passenger trains.

It is being built through a loan from World Bank (which is funding a majority of the EDFC; the WDFC is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency).

Tracks on DFC are designed to carry heavier loads than most of Indian Railways. DFC will get track access charge from the parent Indian Railways, and also generate its own freight business.

NCMC: It is an abbreviation for National Common Mobility Card. NCMC is an automatic fare collection system. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated fully operational NCMC service on the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro. The service was started in Ahmedabad last year.

The idea of NCMC was floated by the Nandan Nilekani committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The NCMC will enable the passengers to travel on the Airport Express Line using the RuPay-Debit Card issued from any part of the country.

This facility will become available on the entire Delhi Metro network by 2022.

This one card will give integrated access to the commuters wherever they travel, whichever public transport they take.

It will allow entry and exit from Metro stations with the help of a smartphone, known as the automatic fare collection (AFC) system.

The main objective of the Government is dwelling on the process of consolidating all the systems into One Nation, One system. 

The other examples under this system are as follows:

  1. One Nation, One Fastag has made travel seamless on highways across the country.
  2. One Nation, One Power Grid, is ensuring adequate and continuous power availability in every part of the country.
  3. One Nation, One Taxe. GST has ended the complications in the tax system and has brought uniformity in indirect tax system.
  4. With One Nation, One Gas Grid, Seamless Gas Connectivity is being ensured of the parts where gas-based life and economy used to be a dream earlier.
  5. One Nation, One Health Insurance Scheme e. Ayushman Bharat through which millions of people from India are taking advantage anywhere in the country.
  6. Citizens moving from one place to another have got freedom from the trouble of making new ration cards through One Nation, One Ration Card.
  7. One Agriculture Market due to new agricultural reforms and arrangements like e-NAM.

Note: Prime Minister also inaugurated India’s first-ever driverless train operations on Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line. It was inaugurated through video conferencing along with fully operational NCMC service on the Airport Express Line

SIB: It stands for Social Impact Bond. SIB is also called pay-for-success bond or pay-for-success financing or simply social bond. SIB is basically a contract with public sector authority, where it pays for better social outcomes. It is a form of outcome-based contracting and aims at improving social outcomes for a specific group of citizens.

Recently, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Pune  signed an MoU with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India to co-create India’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB).

It is for the first time that a government body will act as the 'outcome funder' in a bond contrary to convention. Earlier, traditionally most government-funded public projects required large and early investments by the government with a substantial gestation period of outcomes and involve various kinds of risks.

Under this unique investment tool, PCMC will only have to bear the costing of public welfare projects which are related to the bond if the pre-defined targets of the projects are achieved.

The introduction of the SIB aims attract more investors from public and private sectors to fund public welfare projects and thus help to meet the investment deficit currently hindering India's roadmap to SDGs.

UNDP: It refers to United Nations Development Programme. UNDP was founded on 22 November 1965 to help countries eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable human development, an approach to economic growth that emphasizes improving the quality of life of all citizens while conserving the environment and natural resources for future generations. It is headquartered in New York, New York, United States. The current head of UNDP is Achim Steiner.

Defence

Akash Missiles: Akash is a surface-to-air missile with a range of 25 km, inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2014 and in the Indian Army the following year. It is country’s important missile with over 96 percent indigenization. The Missile has been indigenously developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). The IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program) started in the year 1984.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved export of Akash Missile System and has created a Committee for faster Approval of Defence Exports.

The Cabinet approval will facilitate Indian manufactures to participate in RFI/RFP issued by various countries.

So far, Indian defence exports included parts/components so on. The export of big platforms was minimal. This initiative of the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive.

SAHAYAK-NG: It is India’s first indigenously designed and developed air droppable container. The successful maiden test trial of SAHAYAK-NG has been recently conducted by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) along with Indian Navy from IL 38SD aircraft (Indian Navy) off the coast of Goa.

The trial was conducted to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships which are deployed more than 2000 kilometres from the coast. It reduces the requirement of ships to come close to the coast to collect spares and stores.

Two DRDO laboratories - NSTL, Visakhapatnam and ADRDE, Agra were involved in the development of SAHAYAK-NG container along the industry partner M/s Avantel for GPS integration.

About: SAHAYAK-NG is an advanced version of SAHAYAK Mk I. The newly developed GPS aided air dropped container is having the capability to carry a payload that weighs upto 50 kg and can be dropped from heavy aircraft.

It also has a Satellite-based Reporting Terminal (SBRT), which provides its precise GPS location enabling the ship in distress to pick up critical stores.

SAHAYAK-NG containers are completely water tight which are designed to withstand water entry shocks.

Rate of descent of SAHAYAK-NG container is controlled by a parachute

The airworthiness of the system was certified by CEMILAC (Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification).

CEMILAC: It is a laboratory of the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It was established in 1995. It is hedquartered in Bangalore. Its primary function is certification and qualification of military aircraft and airborne systems. Some of its achievements are issuance of IOC for LCA, ALH.Clearance for Bio-ATF for AN-32. It has 14 regional centres located across the country.

National Police K-9 Journal: The National Police K-9 Journal was recently released by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.

The publication is the first of its kind in the country. The publication is on the subject of Police Service K9s, Police Dogs.

This is a unique initiative will further enrich the subjects related to Police Service Dog, K-9, PSK teams in the country.

The journal comprises different sections in English as well as in Hindi. It is a biannual journal which will be released in April and October every year.

The police dog squad can act as a force multiplier to ensure the safety of society, much like the way drones or satellites are being used in the country.

Note: A special Police K9 Cell was established in November 2020 under the Police Modernization Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs with the mandate of Mainstreaming and Augmentation of Police Service K9s in the country.

PASSEX-2020: The Indian Navy and Vietnamese Navy recently undertook the naval passage exercise PASSEX in the South China Sea. The Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kiltan took part in the exercise.

The two-day exercise was conducted as a part of efforts to boost maritime cooperation between the two countries.

INS Kiltan, under Mission Sagar-III, reached Vietnam’s Nha Rong Port in Ho Chi Minh City, carrying humanitarian assistance to deliver 15 tonnes of relief material for flood-affected people.

This mission of INS Kiltan is part of India’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) assistance to Friendly Foreign Countries during the ongoing pandemic.

Environment

Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary: It is a protected area in Gujarat state, located in the western Satpura Range south of the Narmada River. It shares a common boundary with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Recently, the tribal communities have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the Centre’s notification classifying 121 villages around the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Narmada district as eco-sensitive zones.

They are protesting because of the following reasons:

  1. As per the provisions of the notification, land falling in the eco-sensitive zone cannot be transferred for non-agricultural use for commercial, industrial or residential purposes. Any land that needs to be transferred can be done so only after approval from the state government.
  2. A process has been initiated to include the state government as the co-owner of the land in the 121 villages.
  3. They feel that it could dilute the “power” vested with villagers under the Panchayat (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, implemented in areas notified under Schedule V of the Constitution.

Portulaca laljii: It is the name of a new species of wild sun rose from the Eastern Ghats in India that has been recently discovered by botanists.

The Portulaca laljii, discovered from Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh has unique features such as a tuberous root, a reddish pink flower, prolate-shaped fruits, no hair in its leaf axils, and copper brown seeds without lustre. The flowers are very attractive and bloom for months from June to February.

The plant bears beautiful, tiny pink flowers for eight months. It is because of the succulent nature of tuberous roots that the plant can survive on rocky crevices.

The details of the discovery have been published in the Journal of Asia Pacific Biodiversity.

This new species has been named Portulaca laljii to honour the contribution of Lal Ji Singh, an eminent botanist of the Botanical Survey of India associated with its Andaman and Nicobar Centre.

The species has been placed under the “Data Deficient” category of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) List of threatened species. 

Indian Policy

AB-PMJAY SEHAT Scheme: AB-PMJAY stands for Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana while SEHAT stands for Social, Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine. AB-PMJAY SEHAT scheme is a health insurance scheme for the Union Territory.

Recently, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi virtually launched the AB-PMJAY SEHAT scheme. The scheme aims to extend health insurance coverage to all residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

The AB-PMJAY SEHAT scheme would work in convergence with Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY). It seeks to benefit all resident of the newly formed union territory (UT) "irrespective of their socio-economic status

It will provide free of cost insurance cover to all the residents of the UT of J&K. It will also provide financial cover up to Rs.5 Lakh per family on a floater basis to all residents of the UT of J&K and an operational extension of PM-JAY to 15 lakh (approximately) additional families.

PM-JAY: It refers to the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. PM-JAY is a pioneering initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that poor and vulnerable population is provided health cover. This initiative is part of the Government’s vision to ensure that its citizens – especially the poor and vulnerable groups have universal access to good quality hospital services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence of using health services.

The programme is a part of Union Government and part of the Indian government's National Health Policy. It was launched in September 2018 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. That ministry later established the National Health Authority as an organization to administer the program.

It is the world's largest government sponsored healthcare program. It provides a cover of Rs 500,000 per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation across public and private empanelled hospitals in India. The benefit of Rs 5,00,000 is on a family floater basis. This means that it can be used by one or all members of the family.

It covers medical procedures including nephrology,oncology, cardiology, etc and up to 3 days of pre-hospitalisation and 15 days post-hospitalisation expenses like diagnostics and medicines are also included in the scheme.

R P Tiwari Panel: It is seven-member committee, headed by Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Punjab R P Tiwari set up by UGC (University Grants Commission) to consider the issue (of) holding common entrance test at undergraduate level only from the next academic year.

The government is exploring the feasibility of holding a common entrance test for undergraduate admissions across all central universities from the next academic year.

As per the new National Education Policy (NEP), released in July 2020, it advocated reducing the number of entrance tests to “eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams”.

Ministry of Education (MoE) runs about 40-odd central universities and collectively, all of them have about 1 to 1.25 lakh seats across different disciplines at the undergraduate level. Of these, at present, about 16 central universities, all set up under the UPA-II government, have a common entrance test for Bachelor’s study.

If the NEP suggestion is implemented, the National Testing Agency (NTA) will be tasked to conduct a common aptitude test as well as specialised common exams for different disciplines at least twice a year, for admission to bachelor’s in central universities.

National Testing Agency (NTA): The NTA is an Indian government agency that has been approved by the Union Council of Ministers and established in November 2017.  It has been established as a premier, specialist, autonomous and self-sustained testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for admission/ fellowship in higher educational institutions. The government appointed Vineet Joshi as the first Director-General of the agency.

UGC: It refers to the University Grants Commission. The UGC India is a statutory body set up by the Government of India in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Education, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education. It was formed on 28 December 1953 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the Minister of Education, Natural Resources and Scientific Research.  It provides recognition to universities in India, and disbursements of funds to such recognized universities and colleges.

Note: A proposal to replace it with another new regulatory body called HECI is under consideration by the Government of India (GoI). 

Indian polity

Arya Rajendran: She is Indian politician who is set to become one of the two youngest mayors in India at the age of 21. The other youngest mayor of India is Suman Koli who became the Mayor of Bharatpur in Rajasthan at 21 years in 2009.

Arya won as councillor from Mudavanmukal ward of Thiruvananthapuram corporation at the 2020 Kerala local body elections and was appointed as the mayor of the corporation which made her the youngest mayor of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation.

She is currently doing a BSc in Maths at the All Saints College in Thiruvananthapuram.

Waste management, improvement of primary health infrastructure and projects focussing on youth and women are her priorities as a councillor.

Note: The Guinness world record holder for the youngest Mayor is now held by Michael Sessions, who became Mayor of Hillsdale in the USA at the age of 18 years in 2005.

Madhya Pradesh Cabinet: The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has recently granted its approval to the 'Love Jihad' law against the forced religious conversions in the state. The MP Cabinet approved the Freedom to Religion Bill, 2020 as an Ordinance.

With this legislation, the conversion of anyone directly or indirectly through marriage or by any other means in Madhya Pradesh is prohibited.

 The law, named as the MP Freedom of Religion Bill 2020, includes provision of imprisonment of 2 to 10 years along with a minimum penalty of Rs 50,000 in cases of unlawful conversion of a minor or woman or a person belonging to SC/ST category.

The Bill will now be placed in the MP State Assembly for its final passage.

Once it is passed by the state assembly, the Bill will replace the MP Religious Freedom Act, 1968, which is also known as MP Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968.

Under the new MP Bill, a family court in the state will be empowered to declare marriages conducted for the purpose of religious conversion null and void. The alimony in such cases would be granted as per Section 125 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code).

International

Turkey: Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered on its northwest by Greece and Bulgaria; north by the Black Sea; northeast by Georgia; east by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran; southeast by Iraq; south by Syria and the Mediterranean Sea; and west by the Aegean Sea. The capital of Turkey is Ankara. The currency used here is LTurkish Lira. The current President of Turkey is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Recently, the Turkish Parliament passed an act that would increase the monitoring of civil society groups. The act is called “Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

The Bill was passed following the 2019 report on Turkey prepared by the intergovernmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF is meant for fighting money laundering and terror financing.

Highlights of The Bill:

  1. The bill consists of 43 articles. The bill has made changes to seven laws on Law of Associations of Turkey and is meant to keep Turkey from being blacklisted by the Paris-based watchdog of terror financing.
  2. The Bill gives power to the Turkish government to appoint trustees to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to suspend their activities, seize their assets and monitor their sources of funding.
  3. It allows the interior ministries to replace members of associations if they are being investigated on terrorism charges.
  4. This will now empower the interior ministries to restrict activities of any organization and individuals in the country.
  5. The law is applicable to the international civil society groups operating in Turkey as well.

Note: The two main sources main sources of terrorist incidents in Turkey are the Kurdish-Turkish conflicts and involvement in Syrian Civil war. According to the Global Terrorism Index which is prepared by Institute for Economics and Peace Turkey was ranked 18th in the Global Terrorism Index (India is ranked eighth).

Brexit Trade Deal: The European Union (EU) leaders recently signed the EU-UK Trade ( European Union and the United Kingdom Trade) and Cooperation Agreement on December 30, 2020. This Brexit trade deal was signed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

The European Union and the United Kingdom had agreed upon the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on December 24, 2020.

As per the statement made by the European Commission, the trade deal will be implemented only on a provisional basis, as there had not been time for the EU parliament to vote on it.

Significance:

  1. The UK Parliament voted resoundingly to approve a trade deal with the EU, paving the way for an orderly break with the bloc that will finally complete the UK’s long and divisive Brexit journey. This is significant as the trade deal will do away with the threat of no trade deal Brexit on January 1, 2021.
  2. If Britain had left the EU single market at the end of the year without a trade deal, renewed tariffs and quotes would have damaged cross-Channel trade.
  3. Both sides hope that the trade deal, which was arrived upon after almost 10 months of intense negotiations, will form a stable basis to build a looser partnership.
  4. The European Union is the United Kingdom's biggest trading partner and if no trade deal was agreed upon before the end of 2020, it could have disrupted trade and push Britain into recession.

The European Parliament also must sign off on the agreement, but is not expected to get to it for several weeks.

The UK left the EU almost a year ago, but remained within the bloc’s economic embrace during a transition period that ends at midnight Brussels time —- 11 pm in London — on Thursday. With this, Britain became the first-ever nation to leave the European Union.

Myanmar: Myanmar is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. It was formerly known as Burma. Its capital city is Naypyidaw. The currency used here is Burmese Kyat. The current President of Myanmar is Win Myint.

Recently, the Myanmar Navy officially inducted the submarine INS Sindhuvir. The submarine was handed over by the Indian Navy to the country in October 2020.

INS Sindhuvir was commissioned on 25th December 2020, which marked the 73rd anniversary of the Myanmar Navy. It has been renamed as UMS Minye Theinkhathu by the Myanmar Navy.

This is the first submarine in the Myanmar Navy’s arsenal.

The submarine has been refurbished for the Myanmar Navy by state-run defence shipbuilder, Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Visakhapatnam. It is a diesel-electric Kilo-class submarine, which was in operation in the Indian Navy since 1988.

National

India and Bhutan: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi  recently approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of India and the Royal Government of Bhutan on Cooperation in the peaceful users of outer space.

The MoU was signed on November 19, 2020 by both sides at Bangalore/Thimpu and exchanged.

The signed MoU will provide Impetus to India and Bhutan to pursue cooperation in potential interest areas, such as remote sensing of the earth, satellite communication and satellite based navigation, Space science and planetary exploration, use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system, and application of space technology.

This MoU would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from DOS/ISRO and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) of Bhutan. Joint working Group will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementation.

LHP: It refers to Light House Projects. Prime Minister Narendra mOdi recenlty laid the foundation stone of LHP under the Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC-India) at 6 sites across 6 states.The LHPs are being constructed at Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat),  Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu).

This programme seeks to build over 1,000 houses each in these cities in 12 months. These six projects aim to show a new direction to the housing construction in the country. The LPGs are driven by modern technology and innovative process.

The houses being built under it will take less time to build and will be resilient, affordable and comfortable as modern construction practices from countries like France, Germany and Canada will be put into practice.

On this occasion Prime Minister Modi also announced winners under the Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators - India (ASHA-India) and gave out annual awards for excellence in implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana - Urban (PMAY-U) Mission.

During the event, a certificate course on innovative construction technologies named 'NAVARITIH' (New, Affordable, Validated,  Research Innovation Technologies for Indian Housing) and a compendium of 54 innovative housing construction technologies identified through GHTC-India was also released by him.

ASHA-India: The main objective of ASHA-India is to promote domestic research and entrepreneurship by providing incubation and acceleration support to potential future technologies. Under this initiative, f5 ASHA-India Centers have been set up for providing incubation and acceleration support. The technologies, processes and materials identified through this initiative will provide a major fillip to young creative minds, start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs.

PMAY-U Mission: It refers to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban Mission. PMAY-U Mission has been designed to achieve the vision of “Housing for All by 2022”. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, in order to recognize the outstanding contribution by States, UTs,Urban Local Bodies and beneficiaries has introduced annual awards for excellence in implementation of PMAY-Urban.

Foundation Day of DRDO: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently observed the 63rd Foundation Day of its establishment on January 01, 2021.

DRDO is India's largest research organisation. It was established in 1958 with just 10 laboratories to enhance the research work in the Defence sector. At that time, it was tasked with designing and developing cutting edge defence technologies for Indian Armed Forces.

As of now, it is charged with the military's research and development. It has a network of laboratories engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, life sciences, materials, missiles, and naval systems.

Note: DRDO is an agency under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India (GoI).The Minister currently responsible for DRDO is Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence. The present Chairman of DRDO is Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy.

People In News

MTMA for Social Justice 2020: The 16th MTMA (Mother Teresa Memorial Awards) for Social Justice recently held by Mumbai based Harmony Foundation was awarded. The awards were presented to honour the acts of compassion of the unsung heroes for their contribution in the time of global pandemic.

The theme for this year’s awards was, ‘Celebrating Compassion In Times Of Covid ‘.

The awardees for 2020 included:

  1. Father Fabio Stevenazzi (Milan, Italy) who decided to return to medical practice in order to help those infected with COVID 19. Thi has made him to be the modern-day example of St Charles Borromeo who in 1576 during the Great Plague that hit the city of Milan and cut the population by half, stayed behind to nurse the sick and renovate hospitals.
  2. Dr Anthony Fauci (USA) who is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA. He and his task force were among the first ones to realize the seriousness of this pandemic.
  3. Vikas Khanna (Manhattan, USA) for serving the lonely and underprivileged here in India. He created the FeedIndia Initiative to provide food for more than million people in 135 cities of India.
  4. Dr Pradeep Kumar (Chennai). He took it upon himself to give a befitting burial to his colleague with the help of two ward boys, at a cemetery in the city in the middle of the night.
  5. IPS Sanjay Pandey (DG Home Guards, Maharashtra). He went beyond the call of duty as a police officer to open the first relief camp in the Mumbai city suburbs for migrant workers whose livelihood were disrupted by the lockdown to contain the pandemic.
  6. KK Shailaja (Minister of Health, Kerala) for her extraordinary efforts and pro-activeness in dealing with the pandemic by following experts and scientific advice helped countless Keralites survive the terrors of this pandemic, serving as an example for governments of other states countries to follow.

The Awards is in its 16th year. It is the only award endorsed by Sister Prema, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, the organization started by Mother Teresa.

Harmony Foundation: It is an international NGO that works in the realm of Social Justice. It was founded in October of 2005, with its raison d’etre, being the establishment, and strengthening, of social cohesion among various communities, and to work towards the benefit of all, without discriminating against any religion, creed, sex, or their origins. Instituted in 2005, these Awards, celebrate and commemorate the memory and legacy of Mother Teresa, canonized a Saint by Pope Francis in the Vatican.

V.K. Yadav: He is the chairman & CEO of Railway Board. He has recently been conferred with the prestigious “Eminent Engineer Award for the Year 2020’. He was given this  award by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for his outstanding contribution towards modernization and reforms over Indian Railways.

Every year, on the 15th of September, IRT, Delhi Local Network celebrates Engineers’ Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya.

On this occasion, besides technical activities, the Institution also presents the Eminent Engineer’s Award to distinguished Engineering personalities for their outstanding services in the field of Engineering and technology.

IET: It is the abbreviation for the Institution of Engineering and Technology. IET is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution formally known as The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), established in 1871. It is registered as a Charity in England and Wales and Scotland. It is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 168,000 members in 150 countries. The Institution is celebrating glorious 150 years of existence. IET Delhi Local Network is one of nine such networks in South Asia, which constitutes the Indian arm of the IET.

Hemant Kumar Pandey: He is a senior scientist who has recently been honoured with DRDO’s” Scientist of the Year Award” for his contribution in developing several herbal medicines, including the popular drug Lukoskin meant for the treatment of leucoderma.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had facilitated him at an event with the prestigious award that comprises a certificate and cash prize of Rs 2 lakh.

Pandey has developed 6 herbal drugs so far, Lukoskin used for treating leucoderma or Vitiligo, a condition in which white patches get developed on the skin, has been most widely appreciated and found huge acceptance in the market.

About: He is a recipient of several prestigious awards for his contribution in the field of herbal medicine. He has been undertaking research at the Defence Research and Development Organisation”s (DRDO) lab Defence Institute of Bio-Energy Research (DIBER) at Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand for the past 25 years. Apart from Lukoskin, he has developed drugs for the treatment of eczema and toothache as well as an anti-radiation cream, most of which are already being sold in the market following the transfer of technology (ToT).

Places In News

Manipur: Manipur is a state in northeastern India. It is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west; Myanmar lies to its east. Manipur, literally means,”the jeweled land”. It was formed on 21 January 1972. Its Capital is Imphal. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Manipur are Najma Heptulla and Biren Singh respectively.

Recently, several development projects were launched in Manipur by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. They are as follows:

He laid the foundation stone of projects, including the Churachandpur Medical College, IT-SEZ at Mantripukhri, Manipur Bhawan in New Delhi and the Integrated Command and Control Center at Imphal.

He also inaugurated the e-office and Thoubal Multipurpose Project (Thoubal Dam) in Imphal through virtual mode which will irrigate 35,104 hectares. The Thoubal irrigation project would irrigate vast paddy fields and provide potable water in several districts.

These projects aim to bring ample employment opportunities and boost the GDP of the state immensely.

Tamil Nadu: It is located in the extreme south of the subcontinent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the east and south and by the states of Kerala to the west, Karnataka (formerly Mysore) to the northwest, and Andhra Pradesh to the north. It was formerly the Madras Presidency of British India but was renamed Madras (State) after independence in 1947. Madras (State) was again renamed Tamil Nadu in 1968. Its Capital is Chennai. The Governor and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu are Banwarilal Purohit and Edappadi K. Palaniswami respectively.

Recently, Tamil Nadu got Mayiladuthurai as its 38th district on 28 December 2020. The district has been carved out of Nagapattinam district. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami inaugurated the district.

With Mayiladuthurai as the new district, the total number of districts in the State becomes 38.

R Lalitha, who served as the special officer for district formation has taken charge as the district collector. IPS officer Srinatha has been appointed as the superintendent of police.

The district has been formed in the state for administrative convenience and acceleration of public welfare schemes.

Earlier, the CM had announced that few new districts will be formed in the state for administrative convenience and accelerating the public welfare schemes.

As per the announcement, Chengalpattu, Tenkasi, Kallakurichu, Tirupattur and Ranipet were announced as separate districts in 2020.

Odisha: Odisha also formerly Orissa, is an Indian state located on the eastern coast of India. It neighbors the states of West Bengal and Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and Andhra Pradesh to the south. It is an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal.The capital of Odisha is Bhubaneswar. The Governor and the Chief Minister of Odisha are Ganeshi Lal and Naveen Patnaik respectvely. 

Recently, twelve new projects were sanctioned by the  Odisha state government. These projects with the worth Rs 7,295.25 lakh in an effort toward achieving sustainable agriculture and doubling of farmers' income were sanctioned on the 31st December 2020.

The projects were sanctioned during a state-level sanctioning committee meeting, which was held virtually under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy.

They have been launched under the Remunerative Approach for Agriculture and Allied sector Rejuvenation.

These 12 projects will be financed by the centre and state governments on a 60:40 sharing basis.

The major ones include managing all armyworm and insects on crops, promotion of soil less nursery in tribal regions, planting material support for flower cultivation, supply of mix fruit plants for backyard plantation and e-paste surveillance and management.

Science and Technology

Digital Ocean: It is web-based application “Digital Ocean (www.do.incois.gov.in)” developed by INCOIS of M/o Earth sciences. Digital Ocean was recently inaugurated by the Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Digital Ocean, a first of its kind digital platform for Ocean Data Management has been developed by Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) an autonomous organization under M/o Earth sciences. Digital Ocean is a first of its kind digital platform for Ocean Data Management.

Highlights of Digital Ocean:

  1. It is a step towards Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India, to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  2. It includes a set of applications developed to organize and present heterogeneous oceanographic data by adopting rapid advancements in geospatial technology.
  3. It will serve as a one-stop-solution for all the data related to the ocean.
  4. It facilitates an online interactive web-based environment for data integration, 3D and 4D data visualization, data analysis to assess the evolution of oceanographic features, data fusion and multi-format download of disparate data from multiple sources
  5. It will help to share knowledge about the ocean with a wide range of users including research institutions, operational agencies, maritime industry, strategic users, academic community and policy makers. Digital Ocean also provides free access to information to the general public and the common man.
  6. It seeks to play a central role in sustainable management of our oceans and expanding our ‘Blue Economy’ initiatives.
  7. It will be promoted as a platform for capacity building on Ocean Data Management for all Indian Ocean Rim countries.

Note: The Indian Ocean Rim Association is composed of 14 members. They are India, Bangladesh, Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Kenya, Iran, Malaysia, Madagascar, Singapore, South Africa, Maldives, Oman, Mozambique, Australia, Indonesia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, UAE, Yemen and Thailand.

BARC: It is an acronym for Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. BARC is India's premier nuclear research facility, headquartered in Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is a multi-disciplinary research centre with extensive infrastructure for advanced research and development covering the entire spectrum of nuclear science, engineering and related areas. Previously, the Government of India (GoI) created the Atomic Energy Establishment, AEET with Homi J. Bhabha (also known as the "Father of Indian Nuclear Programme"), as the founding director on 3 January 1954. After Homi Jehangir Bhabha's death in 1966, the centre was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on 22 January 1967. 

Recently, BARC has developed Eye Cancer therapy in the form of the first indigenous Ruthenium 106 Plaque for treatment of Ocular Tumours.

The handling of plaque is very convenient for the Surgeon and it has been acknowledged to be at par with the international standards.

So far the BARC plaques made in India through the Department of Atomic Energy have been used for seven cases for Ocular Cancer.

Ocular tumors: Ocular tumors are tumors inside the eye. They are collections of cells that grow and multiply abnormally and form masses.

Ruthenium-106: Ruthenium-106 is a radioactive form of the rare heavy metal ruthenium, which is a "platinum group" metal similar to platinum.

It is produced from the fission or splitting of uranium-235, the type of uranium used in nuclear fission reactors, so it's found in spent nuclear fuel.

It is used in medicine for cancer radiation therapy, especially for skin and eye tumours. It is also used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators that power satellites.

Proxima Centauri: Proxima Centauri is a small, low-mass star located 4.2 light-years away from the Sun. It is considered a close distance in cosmic terms. This object was discovered in 1915 by Robert Innes and is the nearest-known star to the Sun. Its mass is about an eighth of the Sun’s, and it is too dim to be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

Recently, astronomers running the world’s largest initiative at the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project, started by the legendary physicist Stephen Hawking picked up an “intriguing” radio wave emission from the direction of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Sun.

The news has sparked renewed interest in Proxima Centauri, one of whose planets is believed to revolve in the star’s habitable zone, giving rise to the possibility that it could have, or does, sustain life.

Sports

ICC Awards of the Decade: The winners of the prestigious ICC Awards of the Decade which recognise the best players across Cricket over the past 10 years were announced.

The list of the winners in different categories is as follows:

ICC Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade:

  • MS Dhoni (India)

ICC Men’s Awards:

  • Sir Garfield Sobers Award for ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade: Virat Kohli (India)
  • ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade: Virat Kohli (India)
  • ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Decade:  Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
  • ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Decade: Steve Smith(Australia)
  • ICC Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Decade: Kyle Coetzer (Scotland)

ICC Women’s Award:

  • Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for ICC Female Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry (Australia)
  • ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry(Australia)
  • ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry (Australia)
  • ICC Women’s Associate Cricketer of the Decade: Kathryn Bryce (Scotland)

ICC: It refers to the International Cricket Committee. ICC is the world governing body of cricket. It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 15 June 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. It was renamed as the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1989. The ICC, currently, has 104 member nations. It organises world championship events such as Cricket World Cup, Women's Cricket World Cup, ICC T20 World Cup, ICC Women's T20 World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and Under-19 Cricket World Cup. The current Chairman of ICC is Shashank Manohar and the Chief Executive is Manu Sahney.

Individual Wrestling World Cup: Indian wrestler, Anshu Malik recently became the first wrestler of the country to finish on the podium position at the Individual Wrestling World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia.

The 19-year-old won a silver medal in the women’s 57kg category to claim first international medal of the tournament for the country.

She lost to Moldova’s Anastasia Nichita 5-1 in the final.

Current Affairs December 20 to December 26

Arts

NFDC: It refers to the National Film Development Corporation. The NDFC of India is the central agency established in 1975, to encourage high quality Indian cinema. It functions in areas of film financing, production and distribution and under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India (GOI). It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharshtra.

Recently, the Cabinet approved the merger of 4 government-run film and media units — the Films Division, the Directorate of Film Festivals, the National Film Archives of India and the autonomous body Children’s Film Society under the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) platform.

The film media units are merged under one platform in order to have proper systematic convergence of activities and resources and better coordination, thereby ensuring synergy and efficiency in achieving the mandate of each media unit. This will lead to a reduction in duplication of activities and direct savings to the exchequer.

After the merger, the NFDC will be responsible to fulfill the aspects of production, promotion, and preservation of the filmic content, under the single management platform.

1. Films Division: It was established in 1948. It is the oldest of the four units,. It was created primarily to produce documentaries and news magazines as publicity for government programmes and to keep a cinematic record of Indian history.

2. National Film Archives of India: It was established in 1964 with the primary objective of acquiring and preserving Indian cinematic heritage.

3. Directorate of Film Festivals: It was set up in 1973 to promote Indian films and cultural exchange.

4. The Children’s Film Society: It was founded in 1955 with the specific objective of providing children and young people value-based entertainment through the medium of films.

Amar Singh College: Amar Singh College is based in Srinagar, Kashmir. The College has recently been recognized with the ‘Award of Merit’ in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

The buliding of this college is 80 years old and INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) chapter in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had carried out the conservation work at the Amar Singh College. The restoration of the Amar Singh College helped bring back one of the most prominent institutional buildings in Kashmir to its former glory.

INTACH: It is an abbreviation of Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage in Odisha. INTACH is a non-profit charitable organization registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. It was founded on 27 January 1984. Its responsibility is the preservation and restoration of Art, Cultural, architectural heritage of India. It is headquartered in New Delhi. In 2007, the United Nations awarded INTACH a special consultative status with United Nations Economic and Social Council. The Motto of INTACH is "Dedicated to Conservation". The current Chairman of INTACH is L.K. Gupta.

Economics

Green National Highway Corridors: The World Bank and Government of India ( goI) recently signed a $500 Million(around Rs 3,692 crore) Green National Highways Corridors Project to build safe, green and resilient highways in states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The agreement between the Indian government and the World Bank was signed by an additional secretary, Department of economic affairs, CS Mohapatra, and World Bank acting country director of India, Sumila Gulyani.

The project will help reduce GHG emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways.

It will also support the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the construction of 783 km of highways by combining safe and green technology designs such as industrial byproducts, local and marginal materials, and other bioengineering solutions.

World Bank: The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects. It comprises two institutions which are the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. It was founded on July 1944 by John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White. Its main aim is providing financing, advice, and research to developing nations to aid their economic advancement. The bank predominantly acts as an organization that attempts to fight poverty by offering developmental assistance to middle- and low-income countries. The current President of World Bank is David Malpass.

 

Bharatskills Portal: The Directorate General of Training (DGT) along with Microsoft and NASSCOM Foundation recently launched a digital learning programme for around 1.2 lakh students from nearly 3,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the country.

The digitized e-learning programme can be accessed on the Bharatskills portal, a central repository for skill development programmes.

The joint e-learning programme will provide ITI students with future-ready employability skilling content. The programme aims to enable digitization in education and impact thousands of students, and hopes to reach more students and teachers soon, the skill development and entrepreneurship.

About Bharatskills: The online portal called Bharatskills(https://bharatskills.gov.in) was launched by DGT  in Oct 2019.

It is a Central Repository for skills providing easy access for the trainees and trainers of the ITI ecosystem, to access updated curriculums and course content of all courses under the Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS), Question Banks, mock/practice papers, learning videos, etc., hence enabling anytime, anywhere learning outside the classrooms.

The teachers and students can access a centralized, scalable and prosperous support ecosystem throug its industrial partners who can now learn the newer IR 4.0 skills to meet the demands of the industry.

DGT: It refers to the Directorate General of Training. DGT is an apex organization for development and coordination at National level for the programmes relating to vocational training including women's Vocational Training. It is headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Its current Chairman is KK Natarajan.

Swachhata Abhiyan: It is a mobile application launched by the Minister of State at the Ministry of Social Justice Empowerment Krishan Pal Gurjar.

The Minister urged all citizens to download the app, ''Swachhata Abhiyan'', and through it provide the authorities concerned details of any insanitary latrine or manual scavenger they notice.

This would help in rehabilitating all manual scavengers and replace insanitary latrines with sanitary ones.

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, mandates survey of insanitary latrines, their demolition and construction of sanitary ones in their place.

Note: The government has been implementing Swachh Bharat Mission for the same purpose. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, more than nine crore sanitary latrines have been constructed but still insanitary latrines and manual scavengers in some isolated parts of the country exist.

The reported insanitary latrines and manual scavengers will be rehabilitated to provide dignity of life to them.

Defence

HWT: The full form of HWT is to Hypersonic Wind Tunnel. The Union Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh recently inaugurated the advanced Hypersonic Wind Tunnel (HWT) test facility of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) in Hyderabad, Telangana

The state-of-the-art HWT Test facility is pressure vacuum driven enclosed free jet facility having nozzle exit diameter of 1 meter and will simulate Mach No 5 to 12 (Mach represents the multiplication factor to the speed of sound). With this facility India has become the third country in the world, after the US and Russia, to have such a huge facility in size and capability.

The facility has the capability to simulate hypersonic flow over a wide spectrum and will play a major role in the realization of highly complex futuristic aerospace and defence systems.

MoD: It refers to the Ministry of Defence. It was created in 1776 which is 244 years ago as Military Department by the British East India Company at Kolkata but in 15 August 1947, the Department of Defence became the Ministry of Defence under a cabinet minister. It is charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the Indian armed forces. The President of India is the ceremonial commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the country. The responsibility for national defence rests with the Cabinet. The function of MoD is to provide policy framework and resources to the armed forces to discharge their responsibility in the context of the defence of the country. The Indian Armed Forces (including Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy) and Indian Coast Guard under the Ministry of Defences are primarily responsible for ensuring the territorial integrity of the nation. The current Defence Minister is Rajnath Singh.

Recently, the Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh handed over 3 indigenously developed high technology systems to chiefs of the three armed forces - the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. These systems were handed over to them at a function held in DRDO Bhavan, New Delhi.

The 3 systems which are the Border Surveillance System (BOSS), ASTRA Mk-I Missile, and Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Border Surveillance System (BOSS): BOSS is an all-weather electronic surveillance system. It was handed over to Army Chief General M M Naravane. The system has already been deployed in Ladakh against the Chinese troops for day and night surveillance.

It has been designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun and is being produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Machlipatnam.

The system facilitates monitoring and surveillance by automatically detecting the intrusions in harsh high-altitude sub-zero temperature areas with remote operation capability.

Astra Mk-1 missile system: It was handed over to Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria. This missile is the first indigenously developed beyond visual range (BVR) missile that can be launched from Sukhoi-30, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Mig-29 and Mig-29K.

ASTRA weapon system has been developed by Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) and production by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) Hyderabad.

Indian maritime situational awareness system (IMSAS):

IMSAS was handed to Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh. It is a state-of-the-art high-performance intelligent software system that provides Global Maritime Situational Picture, Marine planning tools and Analytical capabilities to Indian Navy.

The product is jointly conceptualized and developed by Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and Indian Navy, while it is being produced by BEL, Bengaluru.

Satyendra Garg: He is a senior IPS officer who has assumed Andaman and Nicobar DGP charge.

He is a 1987-batch IPS officer. He was posted as joint secretary in the Union home ministry. He was handing the North East division in the home ministry as a joint secretary before being repatriated to his cadre.

Among other top-level reshuffle IPS officer, Ranvir Singh Krishna is named the police chief of Puducherry. He will be replacing 1988-batch IPS officer Balaji Srivastava who will assume charge in Delhi. Srivastav has been transferred to the Delhi Police.

Environment

GRIHA: The full form of GRIHA is the "Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment". It is the national rating system of India for any completed building construction. It has been being recognised as India’s own green building rating system in India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Recently, the 12th GRIHA Summit was inaugurated by Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu virtually. The Summit provides a platform to deliberate on innovative technologies and solutions to help in creating robust mechanisms for developing sustainable and resilient solutions for the benefit of the entire community.

The theme of the Summit was “Rejuvenating Resilient Habitats”.

It is the annual flagship event organized by GRIHA Council in association with ‘key stakeholders in the construction industry’ to discuss and deliberate on the furtherance of Sustainable Habitat Development in India.

GRIHA Council: It is an independent, not-for-profit society jointly setup by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India (GoI) to promote and administer green buildings in India.

Tso Kar Wetland Complex: India recently added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site. It is a second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.

The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex. It consists of 2 principal waterbodies - Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India.

It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.

The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway. The site is also one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in India.

This IBA is also the major breeding area for Bar-headed Geese (Anserindicus), Great Crested Grebe (Podicepscristatus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadornaferruginea), Brown-headed Gull (Larusbrunnicephalus), Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadriusmongolus) and many other species.

Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri or "Mountain Lake", is a lake in the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh. It was notified in 2002 under the List of Ramsar Wetland sites under the Ramsar Convention.

The Ramsar Convention: It was signed on 2nd February, 1971. It is one of the oldest inter-governmental accords signed by member countries. Its main objective is to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.

It is named after Ramsar, the Iranian city where the treaty was signed. Places chosen for conservation under it are given the tag ‘Ramsar site’. The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.

Indian Policy

E-Sampada: It is the name of a new Web Portal and Mobile App that has been dedicated to the nation by the Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs  Hardeep Singh Puri on Good Governance Day.

E-Sampada provides a single-window for all the services including an allotment for over one lakh government residential accommodations, office space allotment to government organizations in 45 office complexes in 28 cities and booking of 1,176-holiday homerooms.

This new web portal provides online facility to users across India to lodge complaints, submit documents and appear for the virtual hearing. In its endeavor to provide ‘One Nation, One System’, the erstwhile 4 websites  namely - gpra.nic.in, estates.gov.in, eawas.nic.in, holidayhomes.nic.in and two Mobile Apps (m-Awas & m-Ashoka5) of the Directorate of Estates have been integrated into one.

Cabinet: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently approved the proposal for revision of the guidelines for obtaining license for providing Direct-To-Home (DTH) broadcasting service in India.

The salient features of the Cabinet's decision as mentioned by Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar are as follows:

  • License for the DTH will be issued for a period of 20 years compared to the license for all service providers which was issued for a duration of 10 years, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The period of License may also be renewed by 10 years at a time.
  • License fee has been revised from 10% of GR (Gross Revenue) to 8% of AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) which will be calculated by deduction of GST from GR.
  • License Fee will be collected on quarterly basis in lieu of presently annual basis.
  • DTH operators shall be permitted to operate to a maximum of 5 percent of its total channel carrying capacity as permitted platform.   
  • The sharing of Infrastructure between DTH operators willing to share DTH platform and transport stream of TV channels, on voluntary basis, will be allowed.
  • The cap of 49% FDl in the existing DTH guidelines will be aligned with the extant Government (DPIIT's) policy on FDl as amended from time to time. It will allow 100% foreign direct investment (FDI).

Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules 2020: The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh recently announced the new ‘Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020.

As per these rules, the consumers across the country will have the right to a minimum standard of service for supply of electricity.

The rules provide for penalties for power distribution utilities (discoms) for not maintaining mandated standards of services.

 The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 power to all consumers unless stated otherwise for a specific category, such as an agricultural connection.

The consumer shall have the option to pay bills online or offline. Besides, there would be provision for advance payment of bills.

These rules provide for Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees.

The key areas which are covered in the Electricity (Rights of consumers) Rules are as follows:

  1. Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees
  2. Release of new connection and modification in existing connection
  3. Metering arrangement
  4. Billing and Payment
  5. Disconnection and Reconnection
  6. Reliability of supply
  7. Consumer as Prosumer
  8. Standards of Performance of licensee
  9. Compensation Mechanism
  10. Call Centre for Consumer Services
  11. Grievance redressal mechanism

Indian polity

ZTC: It refers to the Zoland Territorial Council. The Zomi ethnic group of Manipur has recently renewed its demand for the creation of Zoland Territorial Council (ZTC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, a self-administered zone on the lines of the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.

ZOMI: The Zou people or Zomi are an indigenous community living along the frontier of India and Burma. They are a sub-group of the Zo people (Mizo-Kuki-Chin).

In India, they live with and are similar in language and habits to the Paite and the Simte peoples. The Zou are officially recognized as one of the 33 indigenous peoples within the state of Manipur, and are one of the Scheduled tribes.

According to the 2001 Census, the Zou/Jou population in Manipur is around 20,000 which is less than 3% of the population. The community is concentrated in Churachandpur and Chandel districts of Manipur.

International

International Human Solidarity Day: International Human Solidarity Day is observed every year on 20th of December globally to celebrate unity in diversity and raise awareness about the importance of solidarity.

Solidarity is identified in the Millennium Declaration as one of the fundamental values of international relations in the 21st Century.

The International Human Solidarity Day history starts from December 2002, when the UN General assembly established the World Solidarity Fund. This fund was set up in February 2003 to fund the United Nations Development Programme, which worked to eradicate poverty. The General Assembly, on 22 December 2005, by resolution 60/209 identified solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values that should underlie relations between peoples in the twenty-first century, and in that regard decided to proclaim 20 December of each year International Human Solidarity Day. The day commemorates the establishment of the World Solidarity Fund.

Solidarity: The word solidarity is defined as an awareness of shared interests and objectives that create a psychological sense of unity and ties in a society that bind people together as one.

Singapore: Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. This sovereign island nation is located just off the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia in Southeast Asia bordering the Straits of Malacca to the west, the Riau Islands to the south, and the South China Sea to the east. Singapore has no capital. It is an island city state. The currency used here is Singapore dollar. The current Prime minister of Singapore is Lee Hsien Loong.

Recently, the Hawker Culture of street food in Singapore has been inducted by UNESCO in its prestigious ‘Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.

The Hawker Culture is a popular Singaporean style of street dining and culinary practices in a multicultural urban environment.

The Hawker centres are naturally-ventilated premises with many stalls selling a wide variety from various cultures like Chinese, Malay, Indian, among others at affordably priced food. They are mostly conveniently located at the heart of housing estates, usually with adjourning wet markets. Hawker centres are a unique aspect of Singapore culture and lifestyle. They are known to master a variety of cuisines which they serve at the ‘community dining rooms’ where people from across all walks of life gather and share their unique experiences.

Hawker: A hawker is a vendor who sells food items and other inexpensive goods.

UNESCO: The full form of UNESCO is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO was founded on 6 November 1945. It is a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture. It is headquartered in Paris, France. The current head of UNESCO is Audrey Azoulay. 

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People's Republic of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea. The region is bordered by Guangdong province to the north and the South China Sea to the east, south, and west. It is the eight largest trading entity in the world.

Recently, The Senator of United States (US) recently blocked a bill called the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act. It is a US bill that seeks to give special refugee status, called ‘Temporary Protected Status’ to Hong Kong citizens in the USA. The Bill would also allow them to reside and work in the country as a part of a federal program for individuals from war-ridden countries and for those seeking refuge from other difficult circumstances like natural disasters.

The legislation seeks to protect the Hong Kongers from ‘China’s tightening grip’. It tightens the grip by allowing the residents already residing in the US to remain in the country if they feared harassment by the Government and authorities in Hong Kong.

The Bill was blocked because according to the Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, the democrats used the bill to advance their long-standing goals of changing the immigration laws. The Senator also believed that China might exploit US Immigration laws which will ultimately lead to Chinese Spies working in the US in the interest of China.

National

Good Governance Day (GGD): The day is also known as Sushasan Divas in India. This day observed annually on 25th December. It is observed to commemorate the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna and former-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Good Governance Day was established in 2014 to honour Prime Minister Vajpayee by fostering awareness among the Indian people of accountability in government. In keeping with this principle, the Good Governance Day has been declared to be a working day for the government.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: He was an Indian statesman who served as the Prime Minister of India for three times. He served the nation as the 10th Prime Minister. His first term was for only 13 days in 1996, his second term was for a period of 13 months from March 1998 to April 1999 and then a full term from 1999 to 2004. His first entry into parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha. He was elected to the Lok Sabha seven times. On December 23, 2014, Mr Vajpayee, and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) were announced as recipients of the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award. He was also noted as a poet and a writer. He passed away on 16th August 2018.

National Consumer Rights Day: The day is observed every year by India on December 24. It is observed to raise awareness about the rights of consumers and responsibilities. This is the day when the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President.

On this day in 1986, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 received the Presidential assent and thus came into force. The Act aims to provide consumers with effective safeguards against different types of exploitation, such as defective goods, deficiency in services and unfair trade practices.

However, On 6 August 2019, the Indian Parliament passed the landmark Consumer Protection Bill, 2019. The Bill replaced the more than three decades old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Upon receiving the assent of President, it has become an act which entails setting up of a Central Consumer Protection Authority, CCPA to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.

Under the new Act, the CCPA would make interventions to prevent consumer detriment arising from unfair trade practices.The agency can also initiate class action, including enforcing recall, refund and return of products.

The theme for National Consumer Rights Day 2020 is 'The Sustainable Consumer'.

The Department of Consumer Affairs has launched a consumer awareness program named ‘Jago Grahak Jago’, which means ‘Be aware consumer’.

As part of this initiative, the government has used channels to create consumer awareness through print, media advertisements, Video campaigns and audio campaigns for consumer ieducation and Information.

National Farmer’s Day: National Farmer’s Day also known as Kisan Diwas is celebrated every year on 23 December in India to remember the role of Indian farmers in the economy.

The day is observed to mark the birth anniversary of Chaudhary Charan Singh. He brought farmer-friendly policies and worked towards the welfare of the farmers.

Chaudhary Charan Singh: He was the fifth Prime Minister of India and served the country as Prime Minister from 28 July 1979 to 14 January 1980. He entered politics as part of the Independence Movement motivated by Mohandas Gandhi. Historians and people alike frequently refer to him as the 'champion of India's peasants.' He was born on 23 December 1902 and he passed away on 29 May 1987.

India-Vietnam Leaders’ Virtual Summit: The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently co-chaired a Virtual Summit via video conferencing.

During the Summit, a ‘Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People’ document was adopted to guide the future development of the India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Both leaders also welcomed the signing of a Plan of Action for period 2021-2023 for further implementation of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to implement the Joint Vision. They agreed to support each other’s national development priorities and work together towards the shared objective of a peaceful, stable, secure, free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.

India and Vietnam also signed 7 agreements during the virtual summit in areas such as renewable energy, nuclear energy, petro-chemicals, defence, scientific research and cancer treatment.

India & Japan: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently addressed the 6th edition of the India-Japan SAMVAD conference 2020, via virtual conferencing. The main objective of this Samvad Conference was to discuss the need to build the future of Asia on the positive influence of traditions of non-violence and democracy in Asia.

At the conference, Prime Minister Modi proposed to create a library of traditional Buddhist literature and scriptures in India which would collect digital copies of Buddhist literature from across different parts of the world. The library would then translate these works and make them available for all scholars and monks of Buddhism.

People In News

Srinivasa Ramanujan: Srinivasa Ramanujan FRS born Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar who lived during the British Rule in India was an Indian mathematician whose contributions to the theory of numbers include pioneering discoveries of the properties of the partition function. He had a wealth of ideas that have transformed and reshaped 20th-century mathematics and these ideas still continue to shape mathematics of the 21st century.

Though he had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made substantial contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems then considered unsolvable. Ramanujan initially developed his own mathematical research in isolation.

He was born on 22 December 1887 and he died on 26th April 1920 at an early age of 32. India celebrates National Mathematics Day every year on 22nd every year to commemorate his birth anniversary.

The day is observed as National Mathematics Day every year since 2012. This year nation celebrated his 133rd birth anniversary of Ramanujan.

History of National Mathematics Day: The day was announced on 26 February 2012 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 Dec 1887- 26 Apr 1920). 2012 was also observed as National Mathematics Year.

Narendra Modi: Narendra Damodardas Modi ( born 17 September 1950) is the 14th and current Prime Minister of India since 2014. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014 and is the Member of Parliament for Varanasi.

Recently, US President Donald Trump recently conferred America’s highest military decoration, ‘The Legion of Merit’, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The prestigious Legion of Merit was given to PM Modi for his leadership in elevating strategic partnership of the two countries.

The award was accepted by India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu on behalf of the prime minister from the US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien at the White House on 21 December 2020.

Trump had earlier awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, to Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait on September 18. Before that, the medal was last awarded in 1991.

Legion of Merit: The Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander is a military award of the United States. It is a domed five-pointed American white star plaque of heraldic form and is bordered in purplish-red enamel, with 13 white stars on a blue field emerging from a circle of clouds. Backing the star is a laurel wreath with pierced, crossed arrows pointing outward between each arm of the star and the wreath. The reverse is engraved with the words “United States of America.” It is the seventh in the order of precedence of all the United States military awards.

It is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements, loyalty. The medal is rarely awarded and can only be conferred by the US President. It is usually given to heads of state or heads of government.

It is one of the two United States military decorations that is issued as a neck let. The other is Medal of Honour.

Note: The other Indian winners of Legion of Merit are:

General Satyawant Mallana Srinagesh of Indian Army was awarded with the Legion of Merit in 1955.

The Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa was awarded with the Legion of Merit in 1950.

Kodandera Madappa Cariappa: He was the first Indian Commander in Chief of the Indian Army. He is the one of the only two Indian Army officers to hold the Five-star rank of field marshal. The other is Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

Army Day, in India is celebrated on 15 January in recognition of Field Marshal Cariappa’s taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army.

Ratan Tata: He is an Indian industrialist, philanthropist, and a former chairman of Tata Sons. He was also chairman of Tata Group, from 1990 to 2012, and again, as interim chairman, from October 2016 through February 2017, and continues to head its charitable trusts. Born on 28 December 1937 in Surat he is the recipient of two of the highest civilian awards of India, the Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Padma Bhushan (2000). He is well known for his business ethics and philanthropy.

Recently, the ‘ASSOCHAM Foundation Week 2020’ which was organized was organised from 15 to 19 December 2020 was addressed by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi via video conferencing. The theme of the programme was ‘India’s resilience: Atmanirbhar roadmap towards $5 trillion economies.’

As a part of the celebration PM Modi presented the ‘ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award’ to Shri Ratan Tata, on behalf of the TATA Group, for his distinguished contributions to the country. (the full form of ASSCHAM is Associated Chambers of Commerce of India).

In the last 100 years, ASSOCHAM and the entire Tata group has worked very hard to strengthen India’s economy and help the common Indian.

 Note: Mr. Tata will also be honored with the ‘Global Visionary of Sustainable Business and Peace’ award by the Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce on December 21. He will receive the award during the launch of the Federation of Indo-Israel Chamber of Commerce’s international chapter in Dubai, for promoting innovation that supports sustainability and peace in the region, including with the Palestinians.

Vineet Agarwal: He is the Managing Director of logistics major Transport Corporation of India Limited. He has recently taken over as the new President of The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham). He will be replacing Niranjan Hiranandani, Co-Founder and MD, Hiranandani Group of Companies.

Sumant Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director of ReNew Power, is the new Senior Vice-President of Assocham.

Assocham: It refers to the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India. ASSOCHAM is a non-governmental trade association and advocacy group headquartered in New Delhi, India. The organization was founded in 1920. It represents the interests of trade and commerce in India, and acts as an interface between issues and initiatives.

Places In News

Gurugram: Gurgaon, officially Gurugram, is a city located in the northern Indian state of Haryana. It is the second largest city in the state of Haryana. It is one of the major satellite cities of Delhi and is part of the National Capital Region of India. The city was named after revered teacher Dronacharya of epic Mahabharata. It is believed that Dronacharya was gifted this ancestral village by his disciples, the Pandavas and Kauravas. He gave spiritual instructions to them at this place.

Recently, the Minister of State for Skill Development, Raj Kumar Singh inaugurated India's first Centre of Excellence (CoE) for ‘skill development in the power sector’ in Gurugram, Haryana.

The CoE has been established in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurugram, Haryana.

It has been set up by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India (GoI), in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and Youth, Government of France and Schneider Electric.

It has high-end modern labs which are designed keeping in mind the future technology, that will further strengthen India and France’s relationship in the energy sector.

The CoE will serve as a platform to focus on creating a pool of highly skilled trainers and assessors for further training to increase employability of candidates in the field of Electricity, Automation and Solar Energy Sectors.

Schneider Electric: Schneider Electric is a French multinational company. It provides energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability. It addresses homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries, by combining energy technologies, real-time automation, software and services. The current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is Jean-Pascal Tricoire.

Punjab: Punjab is a state in northern India. It is bounded by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the northeast, Haryana to the south and southeast, and Rajasthan to the southwest and by the country of Pakistan to the west. Punjab in its present form came into existence on 1 November 1966. The city of Chandigarh, within the Chandigarh union territory, is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana. Punjab means "The Land of Five Waters", which are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas. The current Chief Minister and Governor of Punjab are Captain Amarinder Singh and V.P.Singh Badnore respectively.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Punjab launched a   Mobile Application and web portal called ‘PR Insight’. The application seeks to serve as a platform for receiving feedback for people, which in turn will enable Punjab Government remove deficiencies in programmmes and schemes implemented by it.

The main objective of PR Insight is to re-orient the existing schemes and programmes of the state government to the people’s satisfaction after meticulously monitoring their feedback.

PR Insight application has been developed by the Information & Public Relations Department to provide a single repository & dashboard of all the news articles & social media posts of the State.

As many as 31 leading Newspaper agencies/portals have been integrated online with PR Insight application & portal and all the State Departments’ news articles are fetched from these newspaper agencies on real time basis.

The news articles and social media posts will be analyzed using advance analytics and sentiment analysis tools to understand citizen feedback on Government policies and perception of Governance by the citizens.

The app will monitor the citizen’s feedback and subsequently ensure responsive and transparent administration in the State.

West Bengal: West Bengal is a state in eastern India. It lies between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. It borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also borders the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital is Kolkata. It was established on 26 January 1950. The current Chief Minister and Governor of West Bengal are Mamta Banerjee and Jagdeep Dhankhar respectively.

Recently, the Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan dedicated West Bengal’s first oil and gas reserve, ‘Bengal Basin’, to the nation.

The Bengal Basin is explored and owned by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). It is the 8th producing basins of India by ONGC.

The others seven are:

  1. Krishna-Godavari (KG)
  2. Mumbai Offshore
  3. Assam Shelf
  4. Rajasthan
  5. Cauvery
  6. Assam-Arakan Fold Belt
  7. Cambay

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Limited commenced the production of crude oil from the Asokenagar-1 well, Bengal Basin in 24 Paragana district of the state on 20 December 2020.

Uttar Pradesh: Uttar Pradesh is a state in northern India. It was created on 1 April 1937 as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh during British rule, and was renamed Uttar Pradesh in 1950. Its Capital city is Lucknow. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttar Pradesh are Yogi Adityanath and Anandiben Patel respectively.

Recently, a special campaigned named “Varasat” (natural succession) was launched by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government. This is a first of its kind campaign that has been launched to curb property & land-related disputes in rural areas.

This initiative of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath aims is to put an end the land-related issues in the rural areas and eradicate the exploitation of the villagers over succession rights by land mafias, who generally target disputed properties. The two-month-long special drive will continue till 15th February 2020.

Under the arrangements:

  1. The villagers will get both online and offline facilities for registering their ‘Varasat’.
  2. For the people who have land in the village but are living at some other place, a special counter will be opened at the Tehsil-level where they can apply for the same.
  3. People will get proper paper documents for their land property.
  4. They can even avail loans from banks.
  5. It would be helpful in minimizing disputes and animosity within families and relatives. The people would also get rid of facing law suits that sometimes trail for generations.
  6. All the information related to such land will be uploaded on the website of the revenue board based on which the progress of the scheme will be reviewed.

Science and Technology

Naegleria fowleri: It is a single celled amoeba. It is also called the brain-eating Amoeba. It is usually found in warm fresh water. However, the climatic changes have helped the amoeba to spread even during winter. It multiplies rapidly at forty-six degree Celsius.

The amoeba is usually found in rivers, lakes and causes infection called Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis. It is also called PAM and can be fatal

Recently, Naegleria fowleri has been in news because this amoeba is now rapidly spreading in the US. The news comes after a mysterious disease called Eluru was discovered in the districts of Andhra Pradesh.

PAM: It stands for Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis. The symptoms of PAM start to occur after 24 hours the amoeba entered the human body. The most common early symptom of the infection is head ache. The other symptoms are dizziness, stiff neck, vomiting, fever, nausea, seizures, etc.

The amoeba enters the human body through nose. It reaches the brain from the nose, where it feeds on the brain tissues. The unique fact about the amoeba is that it does not cause harm to the human body if it enters through the mouth. Thus, a person does not get infected by PAM by drinking contaminated water.

The Amoeba enters the human body from inadequately chlorinated swimming pools, contaminated tap water.

FAST: It refers to the Five Hundred Metre Aperture Spherical Telescope. FAST is the world's largest Radio Telescope. China recently announced that it is opening its Five Hundred Metre Aperture Spherical Telescope to international scientists.

About FAST: The telescope FAST nicknamed Tianyan (Eye of Heaven) was completed in 2016. It was built at a cost 175 million USD. It displaced thousands of villagers. It is located in the Dawodang depression.  The Dawodang depression is a natural basin in Guizhou, southwest China.

It is located in a natural sinkhole which was formed due to erosion.

FAST has a fixed 500 m (1,600 ft) diameter dish constructed in a natural depression in the landscape. It is the world's largest filled-aperture radio telescope and the second-largest single-dish aperture, after the sparsely-filled RATAN-600 in Russia.

The telescope has a reflecting surface of 500-metres in diameter of which only a circle of 300 metres diameter can be used at one time.

It has super sensitivity to detect cosmic phenomena.

This includes radio bursts and pulsars as well.

The science objectives of FAST are Pulsar Observations,Large Scale Neutral Hydrogen survey, Detection of Interstellar molecules, Pulsar Timing Arrays, Detecting Interstellar Communication signals and Leading International very long baseline interferometry network.

Sports

Football: In football, the Star Argentine footballer Lionel Messi has equalled Brazilian legend Pele's record of 643 goals for a single club by scoring for Barcelona against Valencia. Messi achieved the feat in a Spanish league match where both the teams ended in a 2-2 draw recently.

Football legend Pele scored 643 goals in 665 competitive games for Brazilian club Santos between 1956 and 1974 while Messi needed 748 matches from 2005 to 2020 to reach the tally.

Boxing World Cup championship: Indian pugilists recently bagged 9 medals including 3 golds, 2 silver and 4 bronze at the Cologne Boxing World Cup which ended in Cologne, Germany.

Amit Panghal won  gold in men's category while Manisha Moun  and Simranjit Kaur won gold  in Women's category.

India finished 2nd in the overall Medals List, Germany topped the list with 16 medals. The Cologne Boxing World 2020 was hosted by the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC).

EUBC: It is an acronym for European Boxing Confederation. EUBC was founded in 2009. It is headquartered in Assisi, Italy. The current EUBC President is Franco Falcinelli.

Sports Ministry: The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is a branch of the Government of India (GoI). It administers Department of youth affairs and Department of Sports in India. The Ministry was set up as the Department of Sports at the time of organisation of 1982 Asian Games New Delhi. Its name was changed to the Department of Youth Affairs & Sports during celebration of the International Youth Year, 1985. It became a separate Ministry on 27 May 2000. Subsequently, In 2008, the Ministry was bifurcated into Department of Youth Affairs and Department of Sports under two separate Secretaries. The ministry gives the annual National Sports awards in various categories, including the Arjuna Award and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards. The current Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports is Kiren Rijiju (MOS independent charge).

Recently, the Sports Ministry has approved the inclusion of 4 indigenous Games to be a part of Khelo India Youth Games 2021, which is scheduled to be held in Haryana.

The four new games are Thang-Ta, Gatka, Kalaripayattu and Mallakhamba.

These four selected games represent different parts of the country and will get national recognition with the help of the Khelo India Youth Games 2021.

The place of origin of the 4 newly inducted games are as follows:

  1. Thang-Ta is a Manipur martial art.
  2. Gatka originates from Punjab. It is a traditional fighting style of the Nihang Sikh Warriors, used both as self-defence as well as a sport.
  3. Kalaripayattu has its origin from Kerala.
  4. Mallakhamba is practised in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Lewis Hamilton:  He is the Formula 1 world champion. He has recently won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020.

This is the second time that the 35-year-old Hamilton has been crowned Sports Personality of the Year. Prior to this, he won the award in 2014.

The other award winners at Sports Personality 2020 are:

  1. Helen Rollason Award: Captain Sir Tom Moore
  2. Team of the Year: Liverpool FC
  3. Expert Special Panel Award: Marcus Rashford
  4. Coach of the Year: Jurgen Klopp (Football)
  5. Unsung Hero: Sgt Matt Ratana
  6. Captain Tom Young Unsung Hero: Tobias Weller
  7. Young Sports Personality of the Year: Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (British diver)

Current affairs books and magazine

Current Events Of National And International Importance