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Current Affairs 2020

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 November 16 to November 22

Arts

Statue of Peace: It is a statue named ‘Statue of Peace’ unveiled by Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi recently in the honour of the Jain acharya in the honour of the Jain acharya.

The 151 inch tall statue made from Ashtadhatu i.e. 8 metals, with Copper being the major constituent, is installed at Vijay Vallabh Sadhana Kendra, Jetpura, in Pali, Rajasthan to mark the 151st Birth Anniversary celebrations of Jainacharya Shree Vijay Vallabh Surishwer Ji Maharaj.

Note: Shree Vijay Vallabh Surishwer Ji Maharaj (1870-1954) led an austere life as a Jain Saint working selflessly and dedicatedly to spread the message of Lord Mahavira.

He also worked relentlessly for the welfare of masses, the spread of education, eradication of social evils, wrote inspiring literature (poetry, essays, devotional hymns and Stavans) and gave active support to the freedom movement and the cause of Swadeshi.

Chhath Puja: Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to the Indian subcontinent, more specifically, the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and the Madhesh region of Nepal. It is celebrated on Kartik Shukla Shashthi by Biharis and Nepalese. This festival is celebrated after 6 days of Diwali.

The festival does not involve idolatry and is dedicated to worship the Chhathi Maiya (Shashthi Mata) and sun God Surya along with his wives Usha and Pratyusha the Vedic Goddess of Dawn and Dusk respectively. This folk festival is observed in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. 

It is believed that the main sources of Sun's powers are his wife Usha and Pratyusha. In Chhath, there is combined worship of both the powers along with the Sun.

In the morning, worship of the first ray (Usha) of the Sun and the last ray (Pratyusha) of the Sun in the evening are offered to both of them. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water, standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prasad and arghya to the setting and rising sun.Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the river banks.

The rigorous rituals are observed over a period of four days. They are:

  1. Nahail Khail: This is the first day of Chhath Puja. This means that after bathing, the house is cleaned and food after keeping it in front of the God is eaten to protect the mind from the vengeful tendency.
  2. Kharna: This is the second day of Chhath Puja. Kharna means the fast of the whole day. On this day, the devotees are not allowed to drink even a single drop of water. In the evening, they can eat gur ki kheer (jaggery kheer), fruits and chapati (Bread) full of ghee.
  3. Sandhya Arghya: This is the third day of Chhath puja. On this day an arghya is offered to the sun god during the Kartik Shukla Shashthi. In the evening, a bamboo basket is decorated with fruits, thekua and rice laddus, after which devotees offer an arghya to the sun with their families. At the time of Arghya, water and milk is offered to Sun God and the Chhathi Maiya is worshiped from a soop filled with prasad. After the worship of Sun God, Shashthi Devi songs are sung in the night and the vrat katha is heard.
  4. Usha Arghya: This is the fourth and the last day of the puja. On this day, in the morning, an arghya is offered to the Sun God. On this day, before sunrise, the devotees have to go to the riverbank to offer an arghya to the rising sun. After this, the protection of the child from Chhathi maiya and the happiness of the entire family is sought for peace. After worship, devotees drink sharbat and raw milk, and eat a little prasad in order to break one’s fast which is called Paran or Parana.

Economics

IBBI:It refers to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India. The IBBI has recently amended its regulations to fasten liquidation process. It has made changes to certain regulations pertaining to liquidation process, information utilities and resolution process for corporates.

As per the amendment, the new regulations allows a corporate debtor’s asset that is “not readily realisable” to be transferred to a third party.

The meaning of 'Not readily realisable asset' means that any asset included in the liquidation estate which could not be sold through available options. It can include contingent or disputed assets, and assets underlying proceedings for preferential, undervalued, extortionate credit and fraudulent transactions.

The IBBI has said that in order to ensure quick liquidation of companies which are unable to find bidders under IBC, the liquidator can “assign or transfer a not readily realisable asset” to any person. The said transfer or assignment of the asset must be done in consultation with the stakeholders committee.

For financial creditors seeking to initiate insolvency proceedings against a corporate debtor, the IBBI has specified two other 'record or evidence of default'.

'Record or evidence of default' are certified copy of entries in the relevant account in the bankers' book' and 'order of a court or tribunal that has adjudicated upon the non-payment of a debt'.

About IBBI: IBBI is the regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities like Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP) and Information Utilities (IU) in India. It was established on 1 October 2016. It was given statutory powers through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which was passed by Lok Sabha on 5 May 2016. It covers Individuals,Companies,Limited Liability Partnerships and Partnership firms. The new code aims to speed up the resolution process for stressed assets in the country. It attempts to simplify the process of insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings. It also handles the cases using two tribunals like NCLT(National company law tribunal) and Debt recovery tribunal. It consists of 10 members, including representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Law and corporate affairs, and the Reserve Bank of India. The current Chairperson of the IBBI is  Dr. M. S. Sahoo.

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 RBI imposed a moratorium on Chennai-based Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) for a one month. RBI has put a restriction of Rs 25,000 on withdrawals from the bank.

RBI has put LVB under moratorium because it had undergone a steady decline in the last 3 years. It has not only been experiencing continuous withdrawal of deposits and very low levels of liquidity but it also failed to raise adequate capital to address its issues. 

Lakshmi Vilas Bank has also drafted a RBI scheme for the merger of the bank. Under the ban merger scheme, the Bank is to be amalgamated with the DBS Bank Limited (Singapore). The central bank seeks to complete this merger process before the moratorium period ends.

The proposed scheme of amalgamation is under the special powers of the Government of India and RBI under Section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

RBIH: It refers to the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub. The RIBH has recently been created by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with the objective to promote innovation across the financial sector by leveraging on technology and creating an environment which would facilitate and foster innovation.

RBIH will collaborate with financial sector institutions, technology industry and academic institutions and coordinate efforts for exchange of ideas and development of prototypes related to financial innovations.

This innovative hub would be managed by a Governing Council (GC) consisting of 10 members (including a chairperson). Kris Gopalakrishnan has been appointed as the first Chairperson of the RBIH.

Kris Gopalakrishnan: Senapathy Gopalakrishnan, popularly known as Kris Gopalakrishnan, is Chairman of Axilor Ventures, a company supporting and funding startups, was former executive vice chairman (former co-chairman) of Infosys, a global consulting and IT services company based in India. He is also one of its seven founders.

DIPAM:  It is the abbreviation for Department of Investment and Public Asset Management. DIPAM was earlier, the Department of Disinvestment which was set up as a separate Department on 10th December, 1999 and was later renamed as Ministry of Disinvestment form 6th September, 2001. The Department of Disinvestment became one of the Departments under the Ministry of Finance from 27th May 2004. Then again on 14th April 2016, the Department of Disinvestment was renamed as Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM). DIPAM mainly handles the Indian government's disinvestment programme.

Recently, DIPAM signed an agreement with World Bank (WB) for advising on asset monetization.

As per the agreement, World Bank advisory project, approved by the Finance Minister is to provide advisory services to DIPAM for asset monetization in India. It aims not only at benchmarking its institutional and business models against international best practices but also supporting the development of operational guidelines and capacity building for their implementation

The department is to facilitate monetization of non-core assets of government such as the Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) under strategic disinvestment or closure and enemy property of value of INR 100 crores and above. DIPAM has a framework for monetizing non-core assets.

It is expected that this project would facilitate and accelerate the non-core asset monetization process and help unlock the value of these un-used/ marginally used assets which has the potential to substantially augment financial resources for further investments and growth.

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. The current President of World Bank is David Malpass.

Defence

Microwave Weapons: Microwave Weapons are those weapons that are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target. These type of Weapons use beams of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human target’s skin, causing pain and discomfort.

Recently, the Indian Army rejected a "baseless and fake" report which claimed that the Chinese army had used “microwave weapons” to drive Indian soldiers away from their positions in eastern Ladakh. The report was published in the British daily newspaper.

India and China have been locked in a tense standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh for the last six months. Twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese were killed in a fierce clash between the two armies in Galwan Valley on 15th June 2020.

A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.

China was the first country to put on display of its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014. The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System”.

Microve Ovens: In a microwave oven, an electron tube called a magnetron produces electromagnetic waves (microwaves) that bounce around the metal interior of the appliance, and are absorbed by the food. The microwaves agitate the water molecules in the food, and their vibration produces heat that cooks the food. Foods with a high water content cook faster in a microwave often than drier foods.

QRSAM: The full form of QRSAM is Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile. India recently test-fired the second flight test QRSAM system successfully. It was successfully conducted by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha.

The system achieved a major milestone by a direct hit on to the high performance Jet Unmanned Aerial Target called Banshee at medium range and medium altitude.

The first in the series test of QRSAM took place on 13th of this month. Indian forces have carried out at least seven tests earlier of the missile system. It is called canister-based system.

About QRSAM system: The QRSAM system has been developed by the DRDO in association with Bharat Electronics Limited and Bharat Dynamics Limited for the Indian Army.

QRSAM consists of an Active Array Battery Surveillance Radar, a launcher and an active Array Battery Maltifunction Radar. The radars have 360-degree coverage with 'track on move' and 'search and move' capabilities.

The system is capable of detecting and tracking targets on the move and engaging target with short halts. It is designed to give air defence coverage against strike columns of the Indian Army.

Malabar Exercise: The second phase of Exercise Malabar 2020 has recently been organised in the Northern Arabian Sea from 17th to 20th November 2020.

The first Phase of Exercise Malabar 2020 was conducted in the Bay of Bengal from 3rd to 6th November 2020. Exercise Malabar 2020 is the 24th edition of MALABAR.

The second phase witnessed joint operations, centered around the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy and Nimitz Carrier Strike Group of the US Navy.

It included cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defence exercises, advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings to further enhance interoperability and synergy between the four friendly navies.

Environment

Action Plan for Vulture Conservation, 2020-25: The Acton plan National Action Plan for Vulture Conservation, 2020-25 was recently launched by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) Prakash Javedkar.

The Action Plan was approved by NBWL (National Board for Wildlife) on 5th October 2020 for five States. Under this arrangement, there is an idea to set up Vulture Conservation Breeding Centers in Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Key highlights of the plan:

  • The new plan has laid out strategies and actions to stem the decline in vulture population, especially of the three Gyps species. They are Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) and Long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus). These three vulture species were listed by IUCN, in 2000 as ‘Critically  Endangered’,  which is the highest category of endangerment.
  • This would be done through both ex-situ and in-situ conservation.
  • The plan suggests that new veterinary Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) should be tested on vultures before they are commercially released. NSAIDS often poisons cattle whose carcasses the birds pray on.
  • The new plan automatically removes veterinary use of a drug if it is found to be toxic to vultures. This is to be done with the help of Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).
  • Under the plan, conservation breeding of red-Headed vultures and Egyptian vultures and the establishment of at least one vulture-safe zone in each state for the conservation of the remnant populations in that state.
  • Four rescue centres have been proposed for Pinjore in north India, Bhopal in central India, Guwahati in upper east India Hyderabad in south India.
  • A coordinated Nation-wide vulture counting is to be conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Forest Department, Research Institute, NPO, etc. These countings are to be conducted at regular intervals. Currently, there are no dedicated rescue centres for treating vultures.
  • A database on emerging threats to vulture conservation, including collision and electrocution, unintentional poisoning, etc.

The MoEFCC had released the Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2006 and it seeks to extend the project to 2025 to prevent the decline as well as increase the numbers of vulures in India.

Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan: The Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan (Vulture MsAP) was adopted at the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) held in 2017 which was held in Manila, Phillipines. The first strategy of the plan was launched at the Conservation of Migratory Species COP 13 held in Gadhinagar, Gujarat on 22nd February 2020.

The major objectives of the plan are as follows:

 

  • To reduce mortality caused due to unintentional toxic substances
  • To reduce mortality due to NSAID.
  • To halt the trade of vulture parts
  • To stop poisoning by poacher.

A National vulture Task Force (NVTF) is to be created in every member country. This NVTF shall help the respective governments to address the threats to vultures in their respective countries.

The Vulture conservation programme is a part of the UNEP and every member country is expected to create a National vulture Task Force. Each of the member countries have to create the report of success of the project in 2029.

Need for conservation of Vultures: Vultures are known as nature’s cleanup crew, do the dirty work of cleaning up after death, helping to keep ecosystems healthy as they act as natural carcass recyclers. The scavenging lifestyle that gives them a bad reputation is, in fact, that makes them so important for the environment, nature and society. They play a crucial role in the environments in which they live.

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.

It comprises of 47 members including the administrator. Among these, 19 individuals are ex-officio individuals. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists, environmentalists and five NGOs.

EESL: It is the abbreviation for Energy Efficiency Services Limited. EESL is a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power and Department of New & Renewable Energy (DNRE). It was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in New Delhi, India. The current Chairman and Managing Director (MD) are Rajeev Sharma and Rajat Kumar Sud.

Recently, EESL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DNRE, Government of Goa to implement India’s first Convergence Project in the State.

The MoU was signed with an aim to provide clean affordable and reliable power at affordable rates.

Under the MoU, EESL and DNRE will carry-out the feasibility studies and subsequent implementation of decentralized solar energy projects.

EESL shall implement the solar energy projects. It will install 100 MW of decentralized ground mounted Solar Power projects on government lands to be used for agricultural pumping. This will replace approximately 6,300 agricultural pumps with BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) star rated energy efficient pumps and distribute approximately 16 Lakh LED bulbs for rural domestic households.

The projects will increase the usage of renewable energy sources, especially for  rural power consumption and agriculture in the State.

Ramsar Convention: India, recently added two more wetlands of international importance. They are Lonar lake in Maharashtra and Sur Sarovar also known as Keetham Lake in Agra of Uttar Pradesh under the Ramsar Convention.

Ramsar Convention was signed on 2 February 1971. It is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord signed by member countries to preserve the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the convention was signed in 1971. The places chosen for conservation under it are given the tag ‘Ramsar site’.

The Ramsar Convention works closely with six other organisations known as international organization partners (IOPs). These are:

  1. BirdLife International
  2. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  3. International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  4. Wetlands International
  5. WWF International
  6. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

The main objective 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.

Note: The other Ramsar sites of India are Kabartal in Bihar’s Begusarai district and the Asan Conservation Reserve in Dehradun, the first wetland from Uttarakhand.

Wetlands: A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. It is an area where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil. Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species. The prolonged presence of water creates conditions that favor the growth of specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils.

Five major wetland types are generally recognized:

  1. Marine (coastal wetlands including coastal lagoons, rocky shores, and coral reefs);
  2. Estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps);
  3. Lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes);
  4. Riverine (wetlands along rivers and streams); and
  5. Palustrine (meaning “marshy” - marshes, swamps and bogs).

Indian Policy

PM-FME Scheme: It refers to the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises scheme. The PM-FME Scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme.

Recently, the scheme was inaugurated by the Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar for Food Processing Industries for providing financial, technical, and business support for upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises. The scheme was launched under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

With an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore, it will be implemented over a 5 year period from 2020-21 to 2024-25.

Key highlights of PM-FME Scheme:

  1. The Scheme adopts One District One Product (ODOP) approach to reap benefit of scale in terms of procurement of inputs, availing common services and marketing of products. The States would identify food product for a district keeping in view the existing clusters and availability of raw material.
  2. The scheme aims to enhance the competitiveness of existing individual micro-enterprises in the unorganized segment of the food processing industry and promote formalization of the sector.
  3. The scheme seeks to provide support to FPOs, SHGs, and producers co-operatives along their entire value chain.

The objectives of the scheme are:

  1. Support for capital investment for upgradation and formalization with registration for Goods and Services Tax (GST), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) hygiene standards and Udyog Aadhar.
  2. Capacity building through skill training, imparting technical knowledge on food safety, standards & hygiene and quality improvement.
  3. Hand holding support for preparation of detailed project report (DPR), availing bank loan and upgradation.
  4. Support to Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Self Help Groups (SHGs), producers cooperatives for capital investment, common infrastructure and support branding and marketing.
  5. The scheme envisions to directly assist the 2,00,000 micro food processing units for providing financial, technical, and business support for upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises. The scheme also lays special focus on SCs/STs woman and aspirational districts and FPOs, SHGs and producer cooperatives.

GIS ODOP digital map of India: The GIS One District One Product (ODOP) digital map of India was recently launched by the Ministry of Food Processing.

The GIS ODOP digital map of India provides details of ODOP products of all the states and facilitates the stakeholders.

The digital map also has indicators for tribal, SC, ST, and aspirational districts. It will enable stakeholders to make concerted efforts for its value chain development.

India-Bhutan: Prime Ministers of India and Bhutan Narendra Modi,  Lotay Tshering respectively jointly launched RuPay card Phase-II in Bhutan via video conferencing.

Earlier, the two Prime Ministers had jointly launched phase-1 of the project during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bhutan in August last year. The implementation of phase-1 of RuPay card enabled Indian visitors to Bhutan to access ATMs and point of sale terminals in Bhutan.

The phase-2 will now allow Bhutanese cardholders to access RuPay network in India.

Diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan were established in 1968 with the establishment of a special office of India in Thimphu. Bhutan shares its border with four Indian states: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim with a length of 699 km and serves as a buffer between India and China.

There are a number of institutional and diplomatic mechanisms between India and Bhutan in areas such as security, border management, trade, transit, economic, hydro-power, development cooperation, water resources etc.

In recent past India and Bhutan took a stand against China during Dokalam tri-junction stand-off in 2017.

India-Luxembourg: The Prime Minister of India,  Narendra Modi, and the Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, recently held the first-ever India-Luxembourg Virtual Summit. The summit was held on 19 November 2020.

During the summit, both the Prime Ministers exchanged views on strengthening India-Luxembourg relationship in the post-COVID world.

Both the parties agreed for enhanced cooperation in areas of trade, finance, steel, space, ICT, innovation, manufacturing, automotive, sustainable development, including through renewable energy.

India-Luxembourg also agreed to strengthen cooperation on realizing effective multilateralism and combating global challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic, terrorism and climate change.   

Prime Minister Modi not only welcomed Luxembourg’s announcement to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) but also invited it to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

India and Luxembourg have continued to maintain high-level exchanges in the recent past. The two prime ministers have met previously on three occasions.

Relations: India and luxembourg have friendly relation of over more than seven decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1948. Luxembourg is one of the most important financial centres globally. Several Luxembourg-based investment funds hold substantial banking and asset management market share in portfolio investments in India while several Indian companies have raised capital by issuing Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) at the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

Indian polity

Cow Cabinet: The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan recently announced that the State Government is to constitute ‘Cow Cabinet,’ The decision has been taken to protect, conserve and develop cows in the state.

The Cabinet will comprise of the departments of animal husbandry, forests, panchayat and rural development, revenue, home and farmers welfare. The Cabinet would ensure the protection of ‘gau mata’.

The first meeting of the cabinet is to be held on November 22, 2020. The meeting is to be held at Gau Sanctuary Salaria Agar Malwa.

The first meeting of the Cabinet will be held at 22nd November 2020 ‘Gopashtami’ at the Cow Sanctuary in Agar-Malwa district named Kamdhenu Gau Abhyaranya.

Kamdhenu Gau Abhyaranya is India’s first cow sanctuary which was set up by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Madhya Pradesh government in September 2017.

Anti-Cow Slaughter Act, 2004: According to the act, the transportation of cattle by anyone in the state was prohibited. Special permission was mandatory for even trasporting cattle through the state.

In 2019, the State Government (Congress) of Madhya Pradesh amended the act. According to the amendment, jail term of six months and a fine of Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 was imposed for those who were convicted of committing violence in the name of cow.

Religion: Cows in India are respected and worshipped by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Bhuddists so slaughtering of cow is a sin.

However, Bombay High Court, in 2016 had pronounced a judgment that consumption of beef is legal under Article 21 of Constitution of India. Article 21 is a Fundamental Right to Life.

Note: Article 48 of the Constitution of India is one of the Directive Principles which directs the state to make efforts for banning the Beef consumption, animal slaughtering, Smuggling, and their trading with neighbouring borders. It further states to organise Agriculture and Animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.

Nitish Kumar: Nitish Kumar is the Janata Dal (United) Chief who has been appointed as the next Chief Minister of Bihar while BJP's Sushil Modi will remain the Deputy Chief Minister.

Nitish Kumar was elected unanimously at the meeting in the presence of defence minister Rajnath Singh, who was appointed as an observer by the BJP central leadership. He will take oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the seventh time in 15 years.

Chief Minister (CM): The Chief Ministers in India are appointed by the Governor. On the other hand, the Members of Legislative Assembly are elected by the people. According to Article 164, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor. Article 164 of the Constitution says that the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the governor.

After the State Legislative Assembly elections, a coalition group that secures majority in the house elects its leader. This is conveyed to the governor and he appoints him as the CM. When no party has secured majority in the election, the Governor shall ask the leader of the single largest party in the state to form the government.

Labour and Employment Ministry: The Ministry of Labour & Employment is one of the oldest and most important Ministries of the Government of India. It is India's federal ministry which is responsible to protect and safeguard the interest of workers in general and the poor, deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society. The Minister of Labour and Employment is Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar.

Recently, the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment notified the draft rules under the Code on Social Security 2020.

The draft rules contains operating provisions of the Code on Social Security 2020 relating to Employees State Insurance Corporation, Employees Provident Fund, Gratuity, Social Security, Maternity Benefit, and Cess in respect of Building and Other Construction Workers, Gig Workers, Social security for Unorganised Workers and Platform Workers. 

Draft Rules:

  • It provide for Aadhaar-based registration which includes registration of unorganized workers, gig workers, and platform workers on the portal of Central Government.
  • It contains provisions for Aadhaar based registration of Building and Other Construction Workers on the portal of both the Central Government and the State Government or the State Welfare Board. As per the draft rules, if a building worker is migrating from one state to another, he is entitled to obtain benefits in the state where he is currently working, and the Building Workers Welfare Board of that State provides these benefits to such a worker.
  • It provides single electronic registration of an establishment and also single electronic cancellation of registration in case of closure activities.
  • The rules include gratuity to an employee who was on fixed-term employment.
  • Provision has also been made regarding manner and conditions for exiting of an establishment from EPFO and ESIC coverage.
  • The procedure for self-assessment and payment of Cess in respect of building and other construction workers has been elaborated in the rules.
  • The rate of interest for delayed payment has been reduced from 2% to 1% per month.

 

Under the rules, the Assessing Officer has the power to direct that neither the material nor the machinery can be removed or disturbed from the construction site. The power for indefinitely stopping of construction work has been withdrawn in the draft rules. In addition, under the new draft rules, the assessing officer can visit the construction site only with the prior approval of the Secretary of the Building and Other Construction Workers Board.

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 consists of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 34 judges. It has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions. It is regarded as the most powerful public institution in India. It was established on 26 January 1950. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The current CJI of the Supreme Court is Sharad Arvind Bobde.

Recently, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde during the hearing of a plea filed for release of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, observed that it is “trying to discourage” individuals from filing petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Article 32:

Article 32 is one of the fundamental rights listed in the Constitution that each citizen is entitled.

It deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.

Under Article 32, only if a person's fundamental rights is violated then he can approach the Supreme Court directly.

Both the High Courts and the Supreme Court can be approached for violation or enactment of fundamental rights through five kinds of writs:

  • Habeas corpus (related to personal liberty in cases of illegal detentions and wrongful arrests)
  • Mandamus — directing public officials, governments, courts to perform a statutory duty;
  • Quo warranto — to show by what warrant is a person holding public office;
  • Prohibition — directing judicial or quasi-judicial authorities to stop proceedings which it has no jurisdiction for; and
  • Certiorari — re-examination of an order given by judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative authorities.

When it comes to violation of fundamental rights, an individual can approach the High Court under Article 226 or the Supreme Court directly under Article 32. However, Article 226 is not a fundamental right like Article 32.

High Court: High Courts are the highest courts in a state. Presently, there are 25 High Courts in India, with some states having a common High Court. They are an important part of the judicial system in India. Each High Court consists of a Chief Justice and such other judges as the President of India may appoint from time to time. Besides, the President has the power to appoint additional judges for a temporary period not exceeding two years; an acting judge when a permanent judge is absent or unable to perform his duties.

Recently, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind  appointed 28 Additional Judges as Permanent Judges of Allahabad High Court through clause (1) of Article 217 of the Indian Constitution.

 Article 217(1):

Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the chief Justice, the chief Justice of the High court.

Every Judge of a High Court shall hold office, in the case of an additional or acting Judge, as provided in Article 224, and in any other case, until he attains the age of sixty two years Provided that -

  • a Judge may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office;
  • a Judge may be removed from his office by the President in the manner provided in clause ( 4 ) of Article 124 for the removal of a Judge of the Supreme Court;
  • the office of a Judge shall be vacated by his being appointed by the President to be a Judge of the Supreme Court or by his being transferred by the President to any other High Court within the territory of India.

Note: The Allahabad High Court is the largest of the 25 High Courts in the country because of its sanctioned strength of 160 judges and the number of cases registered,.

National Press Day: The National Press Day is observed anually on 16th November in India. It was on this day the Press Council of India (PCI) started functioning as a moral watchdog to ensure that the press maintains high standards and is not fettered by any influence or threats.

PCI: The Press Council of India is a statutory body functioning under the Press Council Act, 1978. It is the self-regulatory watchdog of the press, for the press and by the press. It was first set up on 4th July 1966 by the Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press Commission.

The Council has a chairman who traditionally is a retired Supreme Court judge, and 28 additional members of whom 20 are members of media, nominated by the newspapers, television channels and other media outlets operating in India.

In the 28 member council, 5 are members of the lower house (Lok Sabha) and upper house (Rajya Sabha) of the Indian parliament and three represent culture literary and legal fields as nominees of Sahitya Academy, University Grant Commission and Bar Council of India.

Its main objective is preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of press in India.

It is a quasi-judicial authority. It adjudicates the complaints against and by the press for violation of ethics and for violation of the freedom of the press respectively.

The current Chaiman of PCI is Hon'ble Mr. Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, Judge , Supreme Court of India (Retd.)

International

15th East Asia Summit 2020: The External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar recently represented India at the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS) on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Summit was chaired by the Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc because Vietnam is ASEAN Chair in 2020 (ASEAN holds the central role and leadership in the forum). The virtual Summit witnessed the participation of all the 18 EAS countries.

During the summit, the leaders agreed to strengthen the EAS platform on its 15th anniversary and they also reaffirmed the 2005 Kuala Lumpur Declaration, and 2010 Ha Noi Declaration & 2011 Bali Declaration & 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declartion.

Besides Ha Noi Declaration, the Summit also adopted four other Leaders’ Statements on:

  1. Marine Sustainability,
  2. Epidemics Prevention and Response,
  3. Women, Peace and Security,
  4. Steady Growth of Regional Economy.

The Leaders underlined the importance of cooperation in ensuring safe, effective and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

They called for greater cooperation in keeping the global supply chains open for an expeditious and sustainable economic recovery.

Regional and international issues such as South China Sea, situation in Korean peninsula and Rakhine state were also discussed.

EAS: It refers to the East Asia summit. EAS was established in 2005. It is a Leaders-led forum that provides a platform for discussion on important strategic issues in the Indo-Pacific region.

It is a regional grouping of 18 participating countries which are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.

India is a founding member of EAS. The 18 members of the EAS together represent 54% of the world population and account for 58% of the global GDP.

The first EAS Summit was held in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur in Malasia.

Japan & Australia: Japan and Australia have recently signed a landmark defence deal called Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) to counter China’s growing influence in the South China Sea and over the Pacific island nations. The RAA was signed between Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

The agreement comes weeks after foreign ministers of the Quad alliance, which includes the US and India, met in Tokyo

RAA will not only allow Japanese and Australian troops to visit each other’s countries and conduct training and joint operations but will also strengthen its security ties and facilitate cooperation between defence forces.

The two sides also agreed on the need for a framework to allow Japanese military to protect Australian forces if needed.

Japan: Japan is an island country located in East Asia. It is made up of 6,852 islands. Tokyo is the capital of Japan. The currency used there is Japanese Yen. The current Prime Minister of Japan is Yoshihide Suga.

Australia: Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia is a sovereign country and the smallest continent and one of the largest countries on Earth. It lies between the Pacific and Indian oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia's capital is Canberra. The currency used there is Australian dollar (AUD). The current Prime Minister of Australia is Scott Morrison.

RCEP: Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. RCEP is the largest free trade agreement (FTA) in the world. Fifteen countries have recently signed the world’s biggest free trade deal, led by China, on the sidelines of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

The signatories involved are Australia, Japan, New Zealand, China, South Korea, and the 10 members of ASEAN, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

The agreement, in total will cover 30% of the world's GDP and population to surpass the Trans-Pacific Partnership in scale.

The signing can be seen as a huge coup for China in extending its influences over the region and marking the dominance in Asian trade.

Though India opted to stay out after walking out of discussions last year, the new trading bloc has made it clear that the door will remain open for India to return to the negotiating table.

The reason for India's withdrawal from RCEP in 2019 was to safeguard the interests of industries like agriculture and dairy and to give an advantage to the country’s services sector and also because of the concerns about the cheap Chinese goods that will be entering the country within this pact.

About RCEP: RCEP was introduced in 2011 at the 19th ASEAN meet. It was formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. It is the biggest trade pact between the ASEAN bloc of 10 members along with Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

The objective of the deal is lowering the tariffs, promote investment, and open up trade in services for helping emerging economies catch up to the world.

The main purpose of RCEP was to make it easier for products and services of each of these countries to be available across this region. Negotiations to chart out this deal had been on since 2013, and India was expected to be a signatory until its decision last November.

12th BRICS Summit: The 12th BRICS summit was recently addressed by the Prime Minister Of India Narendra Modi virtually. The Summit was held under the Chairmanship of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The leaders, at the summit discussed intra-BRICS cooperation. The other key issues were discussed in the global context, like the reform of the multilateral system, measures to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation in Counter-Terrorism, trade, health, energy and people to people exchanges.

The theme of the 12th edition of BRICS Summit was “Global stability, shared security and innovative growth”.

India will be taking over the Chairmanship of the BRICS in 2021 and host the 13th BRICS Summit the same year. It would be the third time that India will take over the BRICS Presidency since its inception. Previously India was the Chair in 2012 and 2016.

BRICS: BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Originally the first 4 were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs. All are also the members of G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China. BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

Moldova: Moldova officially the Republic of Moldova (Romanian: Republica Moldova), is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south. The Capital of Maldova is Chisinau. The currency used here is Moldovan leu.

Recently, Maia Sandu won Moldova’s presidential election after a run-off vote against the incumbent Igor Dodon.

Ms Sandu is a former World Bank economist who favours closer ties with the European Union. Mr Dodon, meanwhile, is openly backed by Russia.

National

India-Kazakhstan: The seventh round of Foreign Office Consultations (FoC) between India and Kazakhstan was recently held in a virtual format.

India was represented by Vikas Swarup, Secretary (West) and Kazakhstan were represented by Shakhrat Nuryshev, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Both the nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ‘Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects in Kazakhstan’.

During the consultations, both sides reviewed the entire scope of bilateral cooperation within the framework of their Strategic Partnership. The consultations covered political, economic and commercial, energy, defence, space, consular and cultural matters.

They agreed to deepen cooperation in the multilateral arena, including during the forthcoming stint of India in the UN Security Council for the period 2021-22. They also assured to combat COVID-19 with cooperation between them.

WEF: It refers to the World Economic Forum. The WEF is headquartered in Cologny, Geneva Canton, Switzerland. It is an international NGO, founded in January 1971. The WEF's mission is stated as "committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas". The founder and Executive Chairman of WEF is Klaus Schwab.

Recently, World Economic Forum (WEF) selected 4 Indian Cities along with 32 other cities from 22 countries and six continents for pioneering a policy road map for smart cities. These smart cities are being developed under the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance. There are totally 36 cities were selected all over the world.

The 4 Indian cities selected are Bengaluru, Indore, Faridabad, and Hyderabad. The other cities selected under the programme are London, Toronto, Moscow, Brasilia, Melbourne, Dubai etc.

These are among the 36 cities across the world that has pledged to adopt new technologies to help the government in managing the COVID-19 pandemic despite constrained resources.

The G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance will give these chosen cities Procedures, laws and regulations to use new technology responsibly.

The pioneer cities launched their activities at a global event broadcast on the 17th of November 2020 by the Smart City Expo World Congress which is the world’s premier smart cities event.

The 36 pioneer cities that have been recruited will collaborate with the global experts to enhance their city policies in areas ranging from cybersecurity and privacy protection to better services for the differently-abled people.

These cities will adopt five policies: they are as folows:

  1. Better Broadband Coverage
  2. Privacy Protection
  3. Accountability for Cyber Security
  4. Better Accessibility to Digital City Services for Physically Disabled
  5. Increased Openness of City Data

With these inputs a road map to becoming a smart city will be framed, which will then be used by other cities in the world in following phases of the initiative.

G20 Global Smart City Alliance: The G20 Global Smart City Alliance was formed in June 2019 during the Osaka G20 Summit held in Osaka, Japan. The main objective of the alliance is to accelerate best practices, foster greater openness and mitigate potential risks and public trust. India joined the alliance as a founding partner.

Lilavati Awards-2020: Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” virtually launched Lilavati Award-2020: AICTE's Innovative education program to empower women

The Lilavati Award is an initiative of the technical education regulator, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). It aims to recognise efforts by AICTE-approved institutions to treat women with ‘equality and fairness’.

The theme of the award is "Women empowerment". The main objective of the award is to create awareness about issues like sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, employment, literacy, technology, credit, marketing, innovation, skill development, natural resources and rights among women.

The award covers multidisciplinary areas such as women's health, self defense, sanitation, literacy, entrepreneurship and legal awareness.

The program is expected to ensure the participation of women and enable them to hold higher positions in educational institution.

AICTE: It refers to the All India Council for Technical Education. AICTE is the statutory body and a national-level council for technical education, under Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. It was established in Nevemcer 1945 as an advisory body but later on in 1987 given statutory status by an Act of Parliament. It is responsible for proper planning and coordinated development of the technical education and management education system in India. The current Chairman of AICTE is Anil Sahasrabudhe.

3rd Annual Bloomberg New Economy Forum: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently addressed the 3rd Annual Bloomberg New Economy Forum through video-conferencing. The forum was held from 16th to 19th November 2020.

The forum focused on refueling the economy and charting a course for the future, as the world economy is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The other Speakers of the forum included Director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former US President Bill Clinton, and Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres.

Bloomberg New Economy Forum: The Bloomberg New Economy Forum was established in 2018 by Michael Bloomberg.

It was established with an aim to build a community of leaders to engage in real conversations leading to actionable solutions about the critical challenges facing a world economy in the throes of a historic transition.

The forum focuses on global economic management, trade and investment, technology, urbanization, capital markets, climate change and inclusiveness.

The inaugural Forum was first held in Singapore and the Second Annual Forum was hosted in Beijing.

Project Kirana: It is a programme launched jointly in India by Mastercard and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Both the entities have collaborated under Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP) to launch the programme to help women entrepreneurs grow and thrive.

Project Kirana is a 2 year programme. It will be rolled out in select cities of Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, Varanasi and Kanpur. The project will work to increase revenue, digital payments and expand financial inclusion. The programme will be implemented by DAI Digital Frontiers and ACCESS Development Services.

The main objectives of the project are as follows:

  • To build digital and financial literacy of the women in the state.
  • To improve business management skills of women.
  • To address cultural and other barriers to women becoming successful Kirana entrepreneurs.
  • To work towards increasing revenue streams, expanding financial inclusion and digital payments adoption of Kirana shops that are owned or operated by women.

USAID: It is an acronym for United States Agency for International Development. USAID is an independent agency of the United States federal government. It is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance. It was founded on 3rd November 1961. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The current Administrator of USAID is Mark Green.

People In News

Barack Obama: Barack Hussein Obama II, a member of the Democratic Party, is an American politician and attorney. He was the first African-American president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004. Obama was born on 4 August 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The former President Barack Obama’s first presidential memoir "A Promised Land" sold nearly 890,000 copies in the U.S. and Canada in its first 24 hours, putting it on track to be the best selling presidential memoir in modern history. The book was published by Penguin Random House imprint Crown. The book was written by Obama during his tenure as the President of United States (2009-17).

A Promised Land is the first of two volumes of the book. This volume tells about his early political life, his presidential campaign in 2008, and ends with the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011. The memoirs include Obama’s impressions of several American and world leaders, including Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, and Vladimir Putin.

Manuel Merino: Manuel Arturo Merino de Lama is a Peruvian politician who was fifth president of Peru between 10 and 15 November 2020. He also serves as a Member of Congress representing the Tumbes constituency for the 2020–2021 term. He previously served in Congress in the 2001–2006 term and 2011–2016 term.

Recently, he was forced to resign just five days after taking office. He replaced President Martín Vizcarra, who was removed in an impeachment procedure over bribery allegations, which he denies.

He resigned after a violent crackdown on demonstrations against him.

Peru: Peru officially the Republic is a country in western South America.It lies wholly in the Southern Hemisphere.It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the south and west by the Pacific Ocean. It is a mega diverse country tht's home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains. The capital os Peru is Lema and the currency used there is Sol.

Mridula Sinha: Mridula Sinha (1942 – 2020) was the former Governor of Goa and veteran BJP leader who passed away on 18th November 2020.

She was the first woman Governor of Goa.

She was also a proficient writer, making extensive contributions to the world of literature as well as culture. Her works Like Jyon Mehendi Ko Rang, a novel adapted into a T.V. Serial and short Story l "Dattak Pita" and autobiography on Vijayaraje scindia Rajpath se lok path par are made into feature films as Dattak and Ek thi Rani Aisi Bhi respectively.

She has served as the head of the BJP’s women’s wing and Chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board in the Ministry of Human Resource Development. She was also the former chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB), Ministry of Human Resource Development.

She will be remembered for starting cultural events called ‘Chaand ke Saath’ in the lawns of Governor House. She had even opened a cattle shed inside the Raj Bhawan.

Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’: Ramesh Pokhriyal born 15 July 1959 is known by his nom de plume Nishank. He is an Indian politician who was appointed on 31 May 2019 to serve as Minister of Human Resource Development in the Second Modi ministry. As of July 2020, following the ministry's name change, his title was changed to Minister of Education.

He initially served society as a teacher and later as a journalist. His political journey started in 1987 as the central spokesperson of the Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand) Sangharsh Samiti. In 1991, he was elected as an MLA from the Karnprayag Assembly. In 1996, for the first time, he became a Cabinet Minister in Uttar Pradesh. He is recognized in the country and abroad as a writer, litterateur, poet, sensitive thinker on the Himalayas and the Ganges.

Recently, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has been chosen for Vatayan International Awards. He for will be conferred with the Vatayan Lifetime Achievement Award at a virtual ceremony on 21st November, 2020. he award is being conferred to the union education minister of poetry and other literary works.

Vatayan International Awards: The prestigious awards is given by the Vatayan-UK organization in London in honour of poets, writers and artists for their exemplary work in their respective fields.

Earlier, many eminent personalities like Javed Akhter, Prasoon Joshi, have been awarded the Vatayan Awards for their literary contribution.

Shri Pokhriyal's publication including the German version ‘nureinWunsch” of Pokhriyal’s story collection ‘Just a Desire’, has been published at the Afro Asian Institute Hamburg while his 'Sparsh Ganga' initiative has been included in Mauritius school curriculum. He has penned more than 75 books on wide ranging issues, which have also been translated into many national and foreign languages.

He has earlier been conferred with several awards in the field of literature and administration including the Sahitya Gaurav Samman by Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Sahitya Bharati Award by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Bharat Gaurav Samman, Outstanding Achievement Award by Global Organization of Person of Indian Origin by Mauritius awarded in Ukraine in the area of environmental protection, Good Governance Award by Dubai Government, “Himal Gaurav Samman" by Nepal.

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 Reorganisation 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 BS Yediyurappa led cabinet gave approval to the formation of Vijayanagar district on November 18, 2020. Vijayanagara will be the 31st district of the State and will be will be headquartered at Hospete. The Karnataka cabinet approved to carve out Vijayanagar district from the mine-rich Bellari district of Karnataka.

Yadgir was the last district created in Karnataka when it was carved out of Kalaburagi in 2009.

Vijaynagar: Vijayanagara is a place named after the Vijayanagara Empire that ruled the state for many years. It was the capital city of the historic Vijayanagara Empire. It was located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. It spread over a large area and included the modern era Group of Monuments at Hampi site in Ballari district and others in and around that district in Karnataka, India.

A part of Vijayanagara ruins known as Hampi have been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Assam: Assam is a state in northeastern India known for its wildlife, archeological sites and tea plantations. It is situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam is known for Assam tea and Assam silk. The state was the first site for oil drilling in Asia. Its capital is Dispur. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Assam are Professor Jagdish Mukhi and Sarbananda Sonowal respectively.

Recently, Northeastern state Assam has been conferred 4 awards in fisheries sector from the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) for the success in the fishery sector.

  • The state has got the best state award under the category of best hilly and North Eastern state.
  • Assam Apex Cooperative Fish Marketing and Processing Federation Limited (FISHFED) has been selected under the category of best hilly and North eastern government organization.
  • Nagaon district has been selected under best hilly and North Eastern district category.
  • Amal Medhi, a farmer from Nalbari district of Assam won first place under the category of hilly and North Eastern fish farmer category.

Other fisheries awards:

The following were the other awards received are

  • Odisha bagged the best state in marine state category
  • Uttar Pradesh won the best state award in Inland State category

All the awards carry Rs 10 lakh prize money, a shawl, a certificate and a momento.

This initiative is to recognize various states, districts and farmers with significant contribution in the field. As India is the second largest producer of fish in the world and thus the sector has a high contribution to the Indian Economy. While reviving the economy from the effect of the Pandemic, it is important to emphasize on fisheries in order to boost declining economic growth.

Note: There are 23 minor and five major fishing harbours in India. The major harbours are Mangalore, Vishakhapatnam, Chennai, Kochi, and Kolkata.

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.

The first solar power-enabled Textile Mill in Asia is set to be set up in Parbhani district, Maharashtra.

With the overall cost Rs. 100 crore of setting up the project, the Jai Bhawani women’s cooperative textile mill which is spread across 30 scres of land will be first in Asia that will operate entirely on solar power.

Once functional, the mill will not only process cotton to cloth but would also provide jobs to many women in the district. The mill will undertake a lot of activities including ginning, pressing, weaving and spinning of cotton.

Parbhani is the leading cotton-producing district in Maharashtra and with the operationalization of the mill, it will give momentum to the industrial sector in the district.

Science and Technology

Param Siddhi: Param Siddhi is the high performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer established under National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) at C-DAC.

Recently, this Indian supercomputer achieved global ranking of 63 in TOP 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world released on 16th November 2020.

The supercomputer with Rpeak of 5.267 Petaflops and 4.6 Petaflops Rmax (Sustained) was conceived by C-DAC and developed jointly with support of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Information Technology (MeitY) and Ministry of Electronics under NSM.

SpaceX Crew-1 Mission: SpaceX has recently launched 4 Astronauts (3 Americans, 1 Japanese) to the International Space Station on the first full-fledged taxi flight for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) by a private company. They were launched by Falcon Rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.

The capsule in which they were launched has been named as “Resilience”. The crew was led by Commander Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover (First Black Astronaut on a long-term space station) mission and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi (First person in 40 years to launch on three types of spacecraft).

SpaceX: Space Exploration Technologies Corp., trading as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company. It was founded on 6 May 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. This privately held company is headquartered in Hawthorne, California, United States. The current SpaceX president & COO is Gwynne Shotwell.

Pincer Catalytic System: Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, have recently formulated efficient “pincer” catalytic systems that transform biomass wastes into valuable chemicals.

According to the researchers, tiny amounts of these “pincer catalysts” repeatedly convert large amounts of industrial waste such as glycerol into lactic acid and hydrogen. Such catalysts also efficiently convert bioethanol, a low-energy density fuel, into high-energy density butanol.

The conversion of valuable intermediates such as ethanol and glycerol, produced during the processing of biomass, into industrially useful chemicals has elicited much interest worldwide.

The findings of the time have also been featured in the Royal Society of Chemistry journals--Chemical Communications and Catalysis Science and Technology

Sports

Linz Open: It is a Tennis tournament played in hardcourts which is usually held in Linz, Austria, since 2009. It is designated as Women Tennis Association International Tournament. Linz Open is sponsored by Generali Gruppe.

Recently, the 22-year-old Aryna Sabalenka Won the Linze Open. She returned to the WTA's top 10 on at the expense of Serena Williams after the Belarusian captured her eighth career title in Linz.

Sabalenka finished the season in style with a straight-sets victory over her doubles partner Elise Mertens in Sunday's final in Austria.

Serena Williams has dropped to 11th rank. She has not played since French Open due to her Achilles injury.

Women Tennis Association (WTA) has ranked Aryna  at number 9 in singles and number 2 in doubles.  Aryna Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam at the US Open 2019. In all Aryna has won 12 WTA titles.

However, Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty still remains at the top even though she skipped US and French Open in 2020.

Novak Djokovic: The Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic became only the second player in tennis history after Pete Sampras to lift the ATP Tour No. 1 trophy for the sixth time

He was given the ATP Tour No. 1 trophy on 15 November 2020, for finishing 2020 as the year-end No. 1 (world number one).

Earlier he had finished as world No. 1, having earlier done it in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

Before this, only Pete Sampras managed to finish six years on top of the rankings which he did between 1993 and 1998.

F1 Turkish Grand Prix 2020: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-Great Britain) has won the Turkish Grand Prix 2020 at Istanbul Park, Turkey.

Sergio Perez (Racing Point-BWT- Mexico) secured the second position and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari finished third.

This was Hamilton 10th victory of the season and 94th F1 win of his career. With this win, he claimed the seventh Formula One championships title of his career which is equal to the record of Michael Schumacher.

Current Affairs November 8 to November 15

Arts

Birsa Munda: Birsa Munda (1875 – 1900) was a tribal freedom fighter who belonged to the Munda tribe. He is also known as “Dharti Abba”, meaning “The Earth Father”. He was the backbone of the Millenarian Movement that arose in the Jharkhand and Bihar belt in the late 19th century, during the British Raj.

The revolt mainly concentrated in the Munda belt of Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada and Bandgaon. His slogan threatening the British Raj—Abua raj seter jana, maharani raj tundu jana ("Let the kingdom of the queen be ended and our kingdom be established")—is remembered even today.

Munda banned forced labour and won legal protection of land rights. He led a movement called “Ulgulan” meaning "resistance by Adivasis" against the Britishers for capturing their lands and forests. The Ulgulan movement is also called the Great Tumult.

His struggle was a huge success as it led to the passing of Chotanagpur Tenancy Act in 1908. The act limited the powers of passing on of lands from the tribal groups to the non-tribal. He died in British custody at a young age of 25 years. His portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament Museum. He is the only tribal leader to have been so honoured.

Every year, the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda is observed on November 15. The state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000. In order to commemorate his sacrifices and contributions towards the National movement, therefore, Jharkhand celebrates its Statehood Day this day.

Recently, Jharkhand celebrated celebrate its 17th Statehood day on 15th of November 2020. Jharkhand was founded by the Bihar Reorganisation Act on 15 November 2000 as the 28th State of India.

Books and Authors:

Majhi Bhint: The Governor of Maharashtra Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari recently released the book ‘Majhi Bhint’ (My Wall) authored by former Maharashtra Minister of Education Rajendra Darda at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai. The book is a compilation of selected Facebook posts of Rajendra Darda pertaining to a range of issues written over the last four years.

Rasaathi: It is the name of a novel penned by Ex-SPG officer Sasindran Kallinkeel. The main character of Rasaathi "The Other Side of a Transgender” novel, is a transgender named Rasaathi born in a well-to-do family in South India. Rasaathi, meaning princess, is in the late 40s who wants people to treat transgenders like human beings by showering love, affection, sympathy and recognize their pathetic and horrible life. The novel has been published by BookMitra.

Sasindran Kallinkeel: He was with the Central Reserve Police (CRP) for 23 years and had a seven-year stint with the Special Protection Group (Prime Minister’s Security) as a senior security officer when Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh were in office.

Diwali: Diwali is a festival of lights and one of the major festivals celebrated mainly by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. The festival usually lasts five days. It is celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika which falls between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance"

The festival is widely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, with many other regional traditions connecting the holiday to Sita and Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, Yama, Yami, Durga, Kali, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kubera, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman. Furthermore, it is, in some regions, a celebration of the day Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating Ravana in Lanka and serving 14 years of exile.

The five-day long festival originated in the Indian subcontinent and is mentioned in early Sanskrit texts. Diwali is usually celebrated twenty days after the Dashera (Dasara, Dasain) festival.

The first day of the festival is celebrated as Dhanteras. The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi. The third day is the day of Lakshmi Puja and the darkest night of the traditional month. In some parts of India, the day after Lakshmi Puja is marked with the Govardhan Puja and Balipratipada (Padwa). Some Hindu communities mark the last day as Bhai Dooj or the regional equivalent, which is dedicated to the bond between sister and brother, while other Hindu and Sikh craftsmen communities mark this day as Vishwakarma Puja and observe it by performing maintenance in their work spaces and offering prayers.

The festival also marks the beginning of a new financial year. It also marks the beginning of winter and the start of a new sowing season.

Some other faiths in India as well as other countries also celebrate their respective festivals alongside Diwali.

The Jains observe their own Diwali which marks the final liberation of Mahavira,

The Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison. The foundation of the Golden Temple was laid on Diwali day.

The Newar Buddhists, unlike other Buddhists, celebrate Diwali by worshipping Lakshmi.

In Nepal, Diwali is known as Tihar or Swanti.

The Hindus of Eastern India and Bangladesh generally celebrate Diwali, by worshipping Goddess Kali.

In Thailand, Diwali is celebrated by lighting lamps which are made up of banana leaves. The festival is known as Lam Kriyongh.

The main day of the festival of Diwali (the day of Lakshmi puja) is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia (except Sarawak), Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan,Singapore,Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Economics

PLI Scheme: It refers to the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme. The Union Cabinet chaired By Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently, gave its approval to introduce the PLI Scheme. The approval comes with an aim to enhance India’s Manufacturing Capabilities and enhance Exports under Atmanirbhar Bharat. The PLI scheme will be implemented by the concerned Union Ministries/Departments.

This scheme was approved in the following 10 key sectors for Enhancing India’s Manufacturing Capabilities and Enhancing Exports.

  • Sectors (and Implementing Ministry/Department):
  • Pharmaceuticals drugs: Department of Pharmaceuticals
  • Telecom & Networking Products: Department of Telecom
  • Advance Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery: NITI Aayog and Department of Heavy Industries.
  • Electronic/Technology Products: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  • Automobiles & Auto Components: Department of Heavy Industries.
  • Textile Products (MMF segment and technical textiles): Ministry of Textiles
  • Food Products: Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
  • High Efficiency Solar PV Modules: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  • White Goods (ACs & LED): Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
  • Specialty Steel: Ministry of Steel.

Note: The above will be in addition to the already notified PLI schemes in the following sectors:

Notified PLI schemes are already available in the following sectors:

  • Mobile Manufacturing and Specified Electronic Components: MEITY.
  • Critical Key Starting materials/Drug Intermediaries and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients: Department of Pharmaceuticals.
  • Manufacturing of Medical Devices: Department of Pharmaceuticals

---------------------------------------------------

IFSCA: It refers to the International Financial Services Centres Authority. IFSCA recently approved the International Financial Services Centres Authority (Banking) Regulations, 2020. It was approved in a meeting conducted on 11th November 2020 in New Delhi.

The draft banking regulations approved at the meeting opens the way for making rules for the various aspects of banking operations that would be permissible at the IFSC. As banking plays an important role at IFSC, banking regulations will help it in reaching its desired potential.

The salient aspects of the Banking Regulations include:

  • Laying down the requirements for setting up IFSC Banking Units (IBUs)
  • Permitting persons resident outside India (having net worth not less than USD 1 Million) to open foreign currency accounts in any freely convertible currency at IFSC Banking Units (IBUs)
  • Permitting persons resident in India (having net worth not less than USD 1 Million) to open foreign currency accounts in any freely convertible currency at IBUs to undertake any transaction under the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS) of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Laying down the permissible activities of IBUs including credit enhancement, credit insurance, and sale , purchase of portfolios, engage in factoring and forfaiting of export receivables and undertake equipment leasing, including aircraft leasing
  • Permitting the Authority to determine business that a Banking Unit may be permitted to conduct in INR with person’s resident in India and person’s resident outside India, subject to settlement of the financial transaction in relation to such business in freely convertible foreign currency.

The above mentioned regulations will be notified by the Government of India in due course.

About IFSCA: The full form of IFSCA is International Financial Services Centres Authority. IFSCA is a body that was launched by the Government of India (GoI) to modulate all financial services in International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs). It has been founded on 27th April 2020 under the International financial services Center Authority Act, 2019. It is headquartered at GIFT City in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

The authority modulates financial products like deposits, financial services, securities and financial institutions approved by regulators like RBI and SEBI.

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. It was founded in 5 September 1612. The current Chief of Navy Staff (CNS) is Karambir singh.

Recently, the fifth Scorpene submarine “Vagir” was launched by the Indian Navy at Mazagoan Dock of South Mumbai. The submarine is capable of taking missions such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, mine laying, intelligence gathering and area surveillance.

Vagir: Vagir an Indian Naval Ship (INS) which is the sixth among the six Kalvari-class submarines that is being constructed by the public sector shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai. The six submarines were built under Project-75 of Indian Navy. These submarines were designed by French Navy and an energy company DCNS. The six submarines were built under Project-75 of Indian Navy. The submarine has been named after a Sand Fish which is a deep sea predator in the Indian Ocean.

Project 75: The main aim of Project 75 is to build six Scorprene Class attack submarines.

The first Vagir which was from Russia was commissioned in 1973.

The other vessels in the class are INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vela and INS Vagsheer.

Out of these Kalvari and Khanderi have been commissioned in 2017 and 2019, Vela and Karanj and undergoing sea trials, Vagir has now been launched and the sixth Scorpene submarine 'Vagsheer' is expected to be launched in the coming years.

Scoprene Class Submarine: Scoprene Class Submarine is a diesel-electric attack submarine that was jointly developed by French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCNS) and Spanish Navantia.

The most important feature of these submarines is that they have an additional air-independent propulsion.

Air-Independent Propulsion: Air-Independent Propulsion is a marine propulsion technology that allows non-nuclear submarine to operate without accessing surface oxygen (or atmospheric oxygen).

Submarines in Indian Navy:

The Nuclear-powered submarines that are currently active in service In Indian Navy are - Arihant-class (nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines) and Chakra Class (nuclear-powered attack submarine).

The Diesel Electric submarines that are currently active in service are - Shishumar class (diesel-electric attack submarines), Kalvari class (diesel-electric attack submarines) and Sindhughosh class (Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines).

Anti Satellite (A-SAT) Missile: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled a model of the anti-satellite missile system at the headquarters of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in New Delhi. The missile system is seen as a symbol of national technological advancement.

On March 27, 2019, in a historic achievement, DRDO had on successfully conducted India's first Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile test "Mission Shakti" from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha. The A-SAT missile successfully engaged with the target, an Indian orbiting satellite, in the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO)in a "Hit to Kill" mode.

This highly complex mission was conducted at extremely high speed with remarkable precision.

With Mission Shakti, India became the fourth nation in the world with the capability to defend its assets in outer space after Russia, USA and China to have ASAT power.

Environment

Tristan da Cunha: It is home to the world’s most remote human settlement. It is inhabited by less than 300 humans is a small chain of islands over 6,000 miles from London in the South Atlantic and the water around the islands are considered to be the richest in the world.

Tristan da Cunha which is a remote group of volcanic islands in the South Atlantic Ocean is a British Overseas Territory with its own constitution. It has recently been declared the largest fully protected marine reserves in the Atlantic Ocean at 687,000 square kilometres. This will close over 90 percent of their waters to harmful activities such as bottom-trawling fishing, sand extraction and deep-sea mining.

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which has been working with the local community and government of Tristan da Cunha, this mountainous archipelago is home to tens of millions of seabirds and several unique land birds that are comparable to the Galapagos island finches.

The island group is also home to the World Heritage Site of Gough and Inaccessible Islands, which is one of the most important seabird islands in the world. The waters around the island are the richest in the world.

Significance of protection: After joining the UK’s Blue Belt Programme, it will become the largest no-take zone in the Atlantic and the fourth largest on the planet. This means fishing, mining and any such activities will not be allowed. This will close over 90 percent of their waters to harmful activities such as bottom-trawling fishing, sand extraction and deep-sea mining.

Blue Belt Programme: The almost 700,000 square kilometres of the Marine Protection Zone (MPZ) is almost three times the size of the UK.  It was launched in 2017. It includes British Antarctic Territories and British Indian Ocean Territories as well. However, in accordance to Antarctic treaty, the claim over the region has been suspended. The Blue Belt Programme provides over 27 million pounds over a period of 5 years for marine conservation around the UK and will safeguard the future of Yellow-nosed albatrosses, sevengill sharks and rockhopper penguins.

Antarctic Treaty: The human activities in Antarctic are regulated by Antarctic Treaty that was signed in 1960. Around 54 countries signed the treaty. The treaty sets Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity in the continent.

Salim Ali: Born in Mumbai on 12th November in 1896 in a Sulaimani Bohra family, Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali was a renowned ornithologist and naturalist. He is often referred to as the 'Birdman of India'.

Recently, the birth anniversary of this renowned ornithologist was observed on 12 November 2020.

He was the first Indian to conduct systematic bird surveys across India. He wrote several books that popularized ornithology in India. His research work is considered highly influential in the development of ornithology.

He later collaborated with the famous ornithologist S Dillon Ripley to write the extensive 10-volume Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan, which took 10 years of research to complete.

He was a well-known environmental crusader who often stood for protecting the wildlife. He played a pivotal role in establishment of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) and prevented the destruction of what is now the Silent Valley National Park.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1976. He received the Gold Medal of the British Ornithologists’ Union in 1967. He was the first non-British citizen to receive the honour. He also received the John C Phillips memorial medal of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. In 1973, the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences awarded him the Pavlovsky Centenary Memorial Medal.

The government of India (GoI) established the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History at Coimbatore (SACON) in 1990.

Amur Falcons: The Amur falcon is a small raptor of the falcon family. It gets its name from the tenth longest river of the world called the Amur River. The river forms border between China and Russia. It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern Africa. These Siberian birds reach the North East for about two months at the onset of winter. After winter, they leave for South Africa. They traverse over 29,000 km migratory route between Siberia and South Africa.

Recently, the Government of Manipur issued order that hunting, sale and rearing of Amur Falcons are banned. People violating the order are liable to be punished under Manipur Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Officials in Manipur have fixed satellite tags on some of the birds in order to monitor the migratory route of the Amur falcons.

A few lakh Amur falcons visit Manipur every year. They used to be one of the most hunted migratory birds visiting Manipur. Every year, they arrive in Northeastern states Manipur and Nagaland for roosting. Doyang Lake in Nagaland is also a stop over to the birds. Thus, Nagaland is known as the “Falcon Capital of the world”.

Indian Policy

15th East Asia Summit: The Union Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S Jaishankar recently attended the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS) from the Indian Side. The Summit was chaired by Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc in his capacity as ASEAN Chair. All the 18 EAS countries participated in the virtual Summit. The 15th EAS Virtual summit was held on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the EAS.

At the summit, the Union Minister re-affirmed the importance of East Asia Summit as the Leaders-led forum to exchange views on strategic issues. He underlined the key role played by the East Asia Summit (EAS) as a leading mechanism of the Indo-Pacific region. He not only reiterated India’s support to the international community in order to tackle post COVID 19 period but also highlighted the need to increase international cooperation in order to fight terrorism, climate change and pandemics. He emphasized the importance of adhering to international law, “respecting territorial integrity and sovereignty”, and promoting a rules-based global order.

EAS: It refers to the East Asia Summit. EAS is a regional forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian and Oceanian regions, based on the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism. Since its establishment, ASEAN has held the central role and leadership in the forum. EAS meetings are held after the annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings, and play an important role in the regional architecture of Asia-Pacific. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.

The members of EAS are India, Brunei, Cambodia, Australia, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malasia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Thailand, United States, Singapore and Vietnam.

Local4Diwali: It is the name of the campaign launched recently by the Union Ministry of Textiles. It has been launched to promote the Indian handicraft which is the cultural heritage of the country and also a source of livelihood for many.

According to the data of the Government of India, the handicrafts sector is a major sector of women empowerment as almost 55% of the workers and artisans are women.

The main objective of this campaign is to urge people to buy and gift Indian handicraft products on this Diwali. The campaign aims to give a boost to Indian handicrafts and artisans which in turn  will help the handicraft artisans and workers in increasing their sales and promote their business.

Since the promotion of the idea of “Vocal for Local” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, every sector is working towards promoting local businesses and strengthening Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan  (‘self-reliant India’ or ‘self-sufficient India’).

MoHFW: It is an abbreviation of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. MoHWF is an Indian government ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India. The Minister of Health and Family Welfare holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers. It was founded in 1976. Its headquarters is in New Delhi. The current Union Minister of Health and Family welfare is Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State is Ashwini Kumar Choubey.

Recently, MoHWF launched a 3 month SAANS ( Social Action and Awareness to Neutrelise Pneumonia Sucessfully) Campaign. It was launched on 12 November 2020 to reduce childhood pneumonia deaths.

The main focus of the scheme is to raise awareness regarding childhood pneumonia and and early intervention with regard to childhood pneumonia, enabling caregivers across the country to identify critical symptoms at earlier stages and trigger prompt care-seeking with qualified providers.

The target of the initiative is to reduce less than 5 pneumonia deaths, per a 1000 live births, to less than three deaths by 2025 through the accelerated SAANS.

Indian polity

Sarna Code: The Jharkhand General Assembly recently passed a resolution to send the Centre a letter to recognise Sarna Code for tribals. The proposal tabled by Chief Minister Hemant Soren was passed unanimously with voice vote. The resolution seeks the inclusion of Sarna as a separate religion in the 2021 Census.

The main aim of this resolution is to address the concerns of the tribal population, which is declining after every census. The religious code will enable to give an exact number of tribal communities, help document their population, preserve tribal languages, culture and history and help them avail their constitutional rights.

In the last eight decades, the tribal population in Jharkhand has come down from 38.03% to 26.02%. They don't have a separate religious entity at present. So far, the surveys have included them as “others” in the religion column.

In 2019, there were demands to denotify Schedule V of the constitution of India areas where the population of the tribal has come down. The Sarna Code if passed in the Assembly then the 2021 cincus will have a column for a new religion for tribals.

Sarna Religion: The followers of the Sarna religion are worshippers of nature. The Sarna religion followers do not consider themselves as Hindus. For decades, these followers have been fighting for a separate religious identity. The major problem is that the term Sarna is not common to all the adherers of naturalistic religions worshipping forests, mountains and rivers.

As per the claims by Sarna tribes there was separate Sarna Code between 1871 and 1951 but was removed in 1961 due to conspiracy. They also claimed that during the 2011 Census, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) had recommended Centre to add the Sarna code in the Census, but it was not implemented.

Note: Jharkhand has 32 tribal groups of which 8 are from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (VTG). While many follow Hindu religion, some have converted to Christianity causing a decline in tribal population so this has become one of the planks of demanding a separate code “to save religious identity”— as various tribal organisations put it.

Schedule V of the Indian Constitution: The Schedule V of Constitution of India deals with control and administration of Scheduled Areas (SA) and scheduled Tribes (ST) residing in states other than Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. In Scheduled areas the Government of India (GoI) plays an important role in safeguarding the economic and cultural interests of ST.

NCST: It refers to the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes. NCST is an Indian constitutional body that was established through Constitution Act, 2003. It was founded on 19 February 2004. The first executive of NCST was Kunwar Singh Tekam. The primary objectives of the NCST are: Protection, welfare and development & advancement of the Scheduled Tribes.

International

Myanmar: Myanmar officially the Republic of the Union of Myanma  was formerly known as Burma,. It is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups. It is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos and Thailand to its east and southeast, and the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south and southwest. Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 1997. The capital of Myanmar is Naypyitaw. The currency used here Burmese kyat.

Recently, the ruling party of Myanmar led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi claimed a resounding victory.

National League for Democracy (NLD) party won close to 400 seats while the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has secured only 21 seats.

 United States (US): 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.

Recently, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr (Joe Biden) won the US presidential election. Biden defeated Donald Trump to become the 46th U.S. president.

He has become the oldest president-elect in U.S. history and the first to oust a sitting commander-in-chief after one term since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Biden’s Electoral College vote to 290, surpassing the 270 needed to win the White House.

California Senator Kamala Harris, who was Biden’s running mate, became the first Black and Indian-American woman to serve as vice president.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr: Biden Jr. was born November 20, 1942, was a member of the Democratic Party, Biden previously served as the 47th vice president from 2009 to 2017 and United States Senator for Delaware from 1973 to 2009.

Kamala Harris: Indian Origin Kamala Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. She has served as the junior United States senator from California since 2017. Her mother is Shyamala Gopalan who is a biologist and whose work on the progesterone receptor gene stimulated work in breast cancer research. She arrived in the U.S. from Tamil Nadu in India in 1958. Her father, Donald J. Harris, is a Stanford University professor emeritus of economics, who arrived in the U.S. from British Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study at UC Berkeley, receiving a PhD in economics in 1966.

Tanzania: Tanzania officially the United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region.  It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya to the northeast; Comoro Islands and the Indian Ocean to the east; Mozambique and Malawi to the south; Zambia to the southwest; and Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, is in northeastern Tanzania. The Capital of Tanzania is Dodoma. The currency used here is Tanzanian Shilling. The current President of Tanzania is John Pombe Magufuli.

Recently, the President of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli has been sworn for a second five-year term after wining 84% of the total votes in elections held on October 28. CHADEMA party candidate Tundu Lissu took the second position.

He took the oath of the office on 05 November 2020.  He was elected as the fifth President of Tanzania and is in office since 2015. 

IPU: It refers to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. IPU was founded in 1889 as the first multilateral political organization in the world, encouraging cooperation and dialogue between all nations. The IPU headquartered in Geneva, is the global organization of national parliaments. It consists of representatives from the National Parliaments of 179 countries. It promotes democracy and helps parliaments become stronger, younger, gender-balanced and more diverse.

Recently, Portugal MP Duarte Pacheco elected as President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The new IPU president Duarte Pacheco was elected with 56 per cent of the vote in a single round of voting.

The term of the Duarte Pacheco will be from 2020-2023. He will be the 30th President of the IPU and will succeed Mexican MP Gabriela Cuevas Barron who completed the tenure in October 2020.

Candidates from 4 countries were in the race for elections. The other three participants were Pakistan’s Muhammad Sanjrani, Uzbekistan’s Akmal Saidov and Canada’s Pakistani origin Salma Ataullahjan.

Duarte Pacheco: He has been a member of Portugal's Parliament since 1991. He has held different functions in Parliament, including as a Member of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Communities.

Portugal: Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. The Capital of Portugal is Lisbon and the currency used here is Euro (EUR).

Ivory Coast: Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d'Ivoire, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, is a country located on the south coast of West Africa. The political capital of Ivory Coast is Yamoussoukro in the centre of the country, while its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan. It borders Guinea to the northwest, Liberia to the west, Mali to the northwest, Burkina Faso to the northeast, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the south. The currency used here is West African CFA franc.

Recently, the incumbent President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, has won a third 5-year term in a landslide victory.

The 78-year-old, Mr Ouattara was first sworn in as the president in 2010 and then re-elected in 2015. Apart from this, he has also served as the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire from November 1990 to December 1993.

National

Public Service Broadcasting Day: The day is celebrated on November 12 every year to commemorate the first and only visit of Mahatma Gandhi, to the studio of All India Radio, Delhi in 1947.

He addressed the displaced people, who had temporarily settled at Kurukshetra in Haryana after partition.

VGF: It refers to viability gap funding. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) recently approved the Continuation and Revamping of the Scheme for Financial Support to Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Infrastructure Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Scheme till 2024-25 with a total outlay of Rs. 8,100 crore.

The revamped scheme aims to provide financial support to PPP projects in the infrastructure sector spread over a period of five years ending 2024-25.

An amount of Rs 6,000 crore out of the total amount of Rs 8,100 crore has been earmarked for PPP projects in the economic infrastructure segment and remaining Rs 2,100 crore for social infrastructure projects

Earlier, the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance had introduced "the Scheme for Financial Support to PPPs in Infrastructure" (Viability Gap Funding Scheme) in 2006. The scheme was limited to projects concerning economic infrastructure only.

The revamped Scheme will attract more PPP projects and facilitate private investment in the social sectors (health, education, waste water, solid waste management and water supply, among others). It is mainly related to introduction of following two sub-schemes for mainstreaming private participation in social infrastructure:

The sub-scheme-1 will cater to Social Sectors such as Water Supply, Waste Water Treatment, Solid Waste Management, Health and Education sectors etc.

The projects eligible under this category should have at least 100% Operational Cost recovery.

The Central Government will provide maximum of 30 percen of Total Project Cost (TPC) of the project as VGF and State Government, Sponsoring Central Ministry or Statutory Entity may provide additional support up to 30% of TPC.

The Sub scheme–2 will support demonstration or pilot social sectors projects. The projects may be from Education and Health sectors where there is at least 50% Operational Cost recovery.

In such projects, the Central Government and the State Governments together will provide up to 80% of capital expenditure and upto 50% of Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs for the first five years.

20th SCO Council of Heads of State Summit: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi recently led the Indian delegates at the 20th Summit of SCO Council of Heads of State which was held on 10 November 2020. The Meeting chaired by the Russian President Vladimir Putin was held in a Video Conference Format.

At the summit, all SCO Member States were represented by their Presidents, while India and Pakistan were represented at the level of Prime Minister.

The Secretary-General of the SCO Secretariat, Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, and the Presidents of the four Observers (Afghanistan, Ian, Belarus, Mongolia) of the SCO also attended the meeting.

This was the third meeting that India participated after becoming a full member in 2017.

India will host the next regular meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government on the 30th of November 2020, in virtual format.

SCO: It refers to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. SCO is headquartered in Beijing, China. The member Countries of SCO are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and India.

NWAs: It refers to the National Water Awards. The second edition of the NWAs for 2019 was presented by the Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu.

Among the states category, Tamil Nadu bagged the Best State Award, followed by Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

About NWAs: The award ceremony was organized by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation from 11 & 12 November 2020 through the virtual platform.

The NWA awards are given to motivate the individuals and organizations to adopt the best usage practices in the field of water resources conservation and management and create awareness among the people about the importance of water.

Children’s Day: Children's Day is celebrated on 14th of November across the Nation every year. The day is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.

Children’s Day also popularly known as ‘Baal Diwas’ in India aims at increasing the awareness of the rights, care and education of children. On this day, many educational and motivational programs are organized across the country, by and for children.

 

History: India's first Prime Minister of India Shri Jawaharlal Nehru was very fond of children so they fondly called him Chacha Nehru. Following his death in 1964, it was decided that to move the celebrations of Children’s Day to November 14 as a mark of respect to him and to commemorate his fondness for children.

A resolution was passed in the Parliament and since then, Children’s Day is celebrated in India on November 14 every year.

Earlier, Children’s Day was celebrated in India first on 20 November 1956, along with the Universal Children’s Day.

National Ayurveda Day 2020: The day is being observed every year from 2016, on the day of Dhanwantri Jayanti or Dhanteras. This day is observed on Dhateras as the Hindu God Dhanvantari is considered as the propagator of Ayurveda.

Lord Dhanvantari: Lord Dhanvantari is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Lord Dhanvantari is also Known as Hindu god of medicine. Hindus worship him for sound health.

This year the 5th Ayurveda Day was observed on 13 November 2020.

The theme of the 5th National Ayurveda Day is — Ayurveda forCOVID-19 pandemic. The main objective of the day is to focus on the strengths of Ayurveda and its unique treatment principles.

On the Ocasion of National Ayurveda Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the two future-ready Ayurveda institutions in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) at Jamnagar in Gujarat and the National Institute of Ayurveda (NIA) at Jaipur in Rajasthan.

 These institutions are expected to play global leadership roles in the growth and development of Ayurveda in the 21st century.

National Education Day: The National Education Day or Rashtriya Shiksha Diwas is celebrated on 11 November every year across the India. The day is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first education minister of independent India, who served from 15 August 1947 until 2 February 1958.

According to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, schools are the laboratories that produce future citizens of the country. He is the person behind IITs and various other institutes in India.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) announced 11 September 2008 to be celebrated as National Education Day to commemorate the birthday of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad  for his contribution in the field of education in India.

Since 2008, every year in India, National Education Day is celebrated without declaring it a holiday.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: He was the first education minister of independent India from 1947 to 1958. He was the first education minister of independent India from 1947 to 1958. He was awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously, India’s highest civilian honour in 1992. His contributions in the field of education, nation-building, and institution-building are exemplary. 

People In News

Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa: He is the longest-serving Prime Minister of Bahrain. Infact, he was the longest-serving Prime Minister of any government in the world. He passed away on 11 November 2020 at the age of 84.

Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa (1935 – 2020) was a Bahraini royal and politician who had served as the Prime Minister of Bahrain from 19 January 1970 until his death on 11 November of 2020. He took over the office a year before Bahrain's independence on 15 August 1971. The Al Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain since 1783.

The Bahrain PM had won United Nations’ top Honor for strengthening the global goal of sustainable development. He was also the winner of World Peace Culture Award in 2017.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has named crown prince Salman al-Khalifa as the new Prime Minister of the country.

Bahrain: Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, is a sovereign state in the Persian Gulf. The island nation is situated between the Qatari peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, The island nation comprises a small archipelago made up of 51 natural islands and an additional 33 artificial islands, centered around Bahrain Island which makes up around 83 percent of the country's landmass. The Capital of Bahrain is Manama. The currency used here is Bahraini dinar.

Bahrain is a staunch ally of neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the United States. It is also the home base of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Kash Patel: Kashyap Pramod Patel, popularly known as Kash Patel is an Indian American who has recently been named as the Chief of Staff to the Acting US Defence Secretary Chris Miller.

The new appointment came a day after Donald Trump fired Defence Secretary Mark Esper and designated Chris Miller, as the Acting Secretary.

Patel had previously served as senior counsel for counter-terrorism at the House Permanent Select Committee. In June 2019, he was appointed as senior director of Counter-terrorism Directorate of the National Security Council (NSC) in the White House.

He is currently on the National Security Council staff. He will be replacing Jen Stewart, who resigned earlier in the day.

Vidisha Maitra: She is an Indian diplomat who has recently been elected to the UN’s Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

In a significant victory for India at the United Nations, Maitra won with 126 UN members supporting her candidature for the only post for the Asia-Pacific group while 64 voted for the opposing candidate who was from Iraq.

She was recommended by the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with administrative and budgetary issues, to the Assembly for a three-year term beginning January 1, 2021.

India has been a member of the committee since its inception in 1946. The victory comes as India gets ready to sit in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning January 2021.

ACABQ: It is an acronym for Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. The ACABQ is an expert Committee of 16 Members elected by the General Assembly for a period of 3 years, on the basis of a broad geographical representation, personal qualifications and experience. The members serve in a personal capacity and not as representatives of Member States.

The Committee holds three sessions a year with total meeting time between nine and ten months per year.

The Advisory Committee is serviced by a secretariat headed by an Executive Secretary, assisted by a Deputy. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee are elected by the Members of the Advisory Committee.

The Committee performs several functions. They are:

  • To examine and report on the budget submitted by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly.
  • To advise the General Assembly concerning any administrative and budgetary matters referred to it.
  • To consider and report to the General Assembly on the auditors’ reports on the accounts of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies.
  • To examine, on behalf of the General Assembly, the administrative budgets of the specialized agencies and proposals for financial arrangements with such agencies.

Sadat Rahman: He is a 17 year old teenager from Bangladesh who has been awarded the prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize 2020. The award was presented by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, during a ceremony in the Netherlands. He was selected out of 142 applicants from 42 countries.

He was awarded the prize for his involvement in setting up his social organization and mobile app ‘Cyber Teens’ to stop cyberbullying.

International Children’s Peace Prize: The International Children’s Peace Prize is awarded annually since 2005 to a child who has made a special effort to promote children's rights and better the situation of vulnerable children. This prize is given by the International children’s rights organization KidsRights based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Places In News

Arunachal Pradesh: Arunachal Pradesh is the northeastern most state of India. It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south. It shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east, and a disputed border with China in the north at the McMahon Line. It is the largest of the Seven Sister States of Northeast India. It became a full-fledged State on 20th February, 1987. It's Capital is Itanagar.The current Governor and Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh are B. D. Mishra governor and prema khandu respectively.

Recently, the first solar-based Integrated Multi-Village Water Supply Project (IMVWSP) of India was launched by Union Jal Shakti Minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has launched in Arunachal Pradesh.

The solar-based lift water supply project which is ‘first of its kind’ in the country has been commissioned at a cost of Rs 28.50 crore. The project is as per Prime Minister Modi's vision for the utilization of multiple resources.

The project is said to provide drinking water to 17,480 people in 39 villages of Lower Dibang Valley district in Arunachal Pradesh.

The IMVWSP has been designed as an integrated project with three components, which are drinking water, green energy and tourism.

The project uses a green energy-solar grid, SCADA automation system, pre-fabricated zinc alum storage tank and High-density polyethylene (HDPE) conduit for mains, sub-mains and distribution networking system. The project also includes amusement park including swimming pool, amphitheatre, fountains, and sit-outs.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu also launched the “Arunachal Jal Sankalp” programme in this event. This is a state-government programme to supplement Jal Jeevan Mission.

Jal Shakti Ministry: Ministry of Jal Shakti is a ministry under Government of India. It was founded in May 2019 under the second Modi ministry. This was formed by merging of two ministries which are Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The ministry was formed with an aim not only to clean the river Ganges but also encompass any international or national disputes between inter-state water bodies and the rivers which are shared by India along with other neighboring countries.  A special project named “Namami Gange” has also been launched to achieve this aim. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is the Minister of Jal Shakti while the Minister of State (Jal Shakti) is Rattan Lal Kataria.

Uttarakhand: It is a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas. Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on 9 November 2000. it was carved from the Himalayan districts of Uttar Pradesh. Its winter Capital is Dehradun and summer capital is Gairsain. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttarakhand are Trivendra Singh Rawat and Baby Rani Maurya respectively.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawa inaugurated the longest single-lane motorable suspension bridge of India. The Dobra-Chanti Jhula (suspension) bridge was inaugurated in Tehri-Garhwal district of Uttarakhand on the occasion of the state's 21st foundation. Uttarakhand was formed on 9th November, 2000.

The bridge is 725-metre long and has been built in 14 years over the Tehri lake with a cost of Rs. 2.95 crore. The bridge built in 14 years will cut travel time between Tehri and Pratapnagar from 5 to 1.5 hours.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister also launched the Mukhya Mantri Saur Swarojgar yojana. The initiative was launched on 8 October 2020 at the Veer Chandra Singh Gharwali Auditorium in Dehradun, Uttarakhand

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 Chief Minister of MP Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched a roadmap to “Aatma Nirbhar Madhya Pradesh 2023” through a virtual event. Under the roadmap, a special focus will be on health and education in the state.

Under this roadmap, a network of hospitals will be established in the state focusing on the health sector. Economy and employment will also be major focus areas and small and cottage industries too will be motivated.

The roadmap of Aatma Nirbhar Madhya Pradesh has been prepared on the basis of the inputs received by the experts in the 4 seminars that was conducted earlier on physical infrastructure, good governance, health and education to prepare the roadmap of the state.

Along with launching the roadmap to Aatma Nirbhar Madhya Pradesh, the chief minister also transferred the interest-free loan of 10 thousand rupees each into the accounts of rural street vendors under the Mukhya Mantri rural Street Vendor Loan Scheme.

The Mukhya Mantri Rural Street Vendor Scheme has been launched by the state government, on the line of Pradhanmantri street vendor scheme with an objective to provide a loan up to Rupees 10,000 to street vendors in rural areas.

Under this scheme, the State Govt scheme will bear 14 per cent interest subsidy per loan beneficiary (for loans upto Rupees 10,000).

Science and Technology

ISRO: It is an abbreviation for the Indian Space Research Organization.  ISRO is the space agency of the Government of India (GoI) and was formed in 15 august 1969. It superseded the erstwhile “Indian National Committe For Space Research” (INCOSPAR) which was established in 1962 by the efforts of Independent India's first prime minister‚ Jawaharlal Nehru‚ and his close aide and scientist Vikram Sarabhai. In 1972, the Government of India had set up a Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS), bringing ISRO under the DOS. ISRO then embarked on its mission to provide the Nation space based services and to develop the technologies to achieve the same independently. Its vision is to “harness space technology for natural development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration”. ISRO built India’s first Satellite Aryabhata. It is headquartered in Bangalore, India. The current Chairman of ISRO is K sivan.

Recently, ISRO successfully launched the 51st mission of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). This is the first mission by ISRO in 2020. The carrier vehicle PSLV C49 will deliver 10 satellites in all with EOS-01 as the primary one.

The launch was carried out from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

EOS-01: It is an earth observation satellite launched by ISRO using PSLV-C49 rocket  along with nine customer satellites. The satellite is intended to provide agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.

The 9 customer satellites are - 1 from Lithuania, 4 from Luxembourg and 4 from USA. The customer satellites were being launched under a commercial agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), department of space.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard.

Recently, NASA reported that on the 28th of April 2020, it observed a mix of X-ray and radio signals. This was detected by the CHIME telescope. This has never been observed earlier in the galaxy. Significantly, the flare-up it observed included the first fast radio burst (FRB) in Milky Way. Though the Fast Radio Bursts were discovered in 2007 during a pulsar survey data but it is for the first time that such phenomena has occurred in the Milky Way Galaxy. However, the origin of Radio Bursts are have not yet been located.

The detection of the phenomenon called FRB were published in the journal Nature on November 4.

Origin: The source of the FRB detected in April in the Milky Way Galaxy was from a very powerful magnetic neutron star, referred to as a magnetar, called SGR 1935+2154 or SGR 1935. It is located in the constellation Vulpecula and is estimated to be between 14,000-41,000 light-years away.

The X-ray bursts lasted for less than a second and the radio burst, on the other hand, lasted for a thousandth of a second and was thousands of times brighter than any other radio emissions from magnetars ever seen in the Milky Way.

This was the brightest of the any other radio transmissions from magnetars. The FRB-associated burst was exceptional maybe because it likely occurred at or close to the magnetar’s magnetic pole.

This flare-up, which lasted for hours, was picked up by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space telescope and NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), which is an X-ray telescope mounted on the International Space Station.

Fast Radio Bursts: Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are bright bursts of radio waves produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields. The duration of these bursts last only for millisecond-scale. Due to this short duration of occurrence, it is highly difficult to detect Fast Radio Bursts and determine their position in the sky.

CHIME Telescope: The full form of CHIME is Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment. CHIME is a radio telescope located at Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Kaleden, British Columbia, Canada. It is used for receiving radio waves.

Magnetar: A magnetar is a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field. According to NASA, a magnetar is a neutron star, “the crushed, city-size remains of a star many times more massive than our Sun.”

The magnetic field of such a star is very powerful, which can be over 10 trillion times stronger than a refrigerator magnet and up to a thousand times stronger than a typical neutron star’s. A magnetar's magnetic field gives rise to very strong and characteristic bursts of X-rays and gamma rays. The active life of a magnetar is short.

China: China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia. It is governed by the Communist Party of China. It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army, and the second-largest defense budget. The capital of China is Beijing. The currency used here is Yuan (CNY) and Renminbi (RMB). The yuan is the unit of account of the country's economic and financial system while Renminbi is the official currency of China where it acts as a medium of exchange. The current President of china is Xi Jinping.

Recently, China sent the world’s first 6G experiment satellite into space. The 6G satellite was among three Chinese satellites successfully launched into orbit, along with 10 commercial remote sensing satellites developed by Argentinian company Satellogic. This was the 351st rocket of China’s Long March series.

As per the reports, the technology is expected to be over 100 times faster than 5G.  The 6G communications test satellite was launched into the orbit along with 12 other satellites. The satellite also carries technology which will be used for crop disaster monitoring and forest fire prevention.

Sports

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 organization 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 current Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports is Kiren Rijiju (MOS independent charge).

Recently, In a first-ever move, the Ministry of Youth Affairs And Sports has introduced an incentivisation structure to extend monetary support to 500 private academies, through the Khelo India Scheme over the next four years starting FY 2020-21.

In this model, private academies shall be graded into different categories based on achievement of players trained by the academy, level of coaches available at the academy, quality of Field of Play and allied infrastructure, availability of sports science facilities and staff.

The 14 priority disciplines identified for excellence in 2028 Olympics will be eligible for receiving support in the first phase.

This move, as per the Minister of Sports Kiren Rijiju, aims to encourage all academies, especially the private academies to continue improving the level of infrastructure, resources and sports science support so that athletes can get best in class training.

Under the scheme, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and National Sports Federation (NSFs) will be working together. SAI will also hold discussions with NSFs and implement categorization and gradation of the academies.

The number of academies to be funded and the quantum of funding under each discipline will be determined by an objective evaluation of the need for investment and each NSF’s capabilities. There will be a special focus on developing sports science facilities at all the academies to improve the overall quality of training.

ITTF Women’s World Cup title: The world number one Chen Meng beat Chinese compatriot Sun Yingsha to win her maiden International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Women’s World Cup table tennis title. The 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup was the 24th edition of 2020 ITTF Women's world Cup was held in Weihai, China. The ITTF Sanctioned event took place on the 8th to 10th of November 2020.

Chen's victory at the bio-secure Weihai Nanhai Olympic Center made her the first winner of the ITTF's #RESTART series and also took her tally of senior singles titles to 19.

ITTF: It is the acronym for the International Table Tennis Federation. ITTF is the governing body for all national table tennis associations. It was founded in 1932 by Ivor Montagu and  William Henry Lawes. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The role of the ITTF includes overseeing rules and regulations and seeking technological improvement for the sport of table tennis.The current President of ITTF is Thomas Weikert.

IPL: It refers to the Indian Premier League. IPL was founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2008. The league is a professional Twenty20 cricket league in India which is contested during March or April and May of every year by 8 teams representing 8 different cities in India. It was introduced by Lalit Modi, who was also the first Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and ran the tournament for three years until 2010.

Recently, Mumbai Indians defeated Delhi Capitals in the final of Dream11 Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 to lift their fifth IPL trophy. The team has so far won the title in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. The tournament was played between 19 September and 10 November 2020 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Mumbai Indians team is owned by Reliance Industries.

The list of the award winners are as follows:

  • Kings XI Punjab skipper KL Rahul bagged the Orange Cap for being the leading run-scorer of the IPL 2020. He racked up 670 runs from 14 games at an astronomical average of 55.83.
  • Delhi Capitals’ Kagiso Rabada won the Purple Cap after finishing at the top of the table with a total of 30 wickets at the end of IPL 2020.
  • Rohit Sharma adjudged Game Changer of the Match in the final of IPL 2020.
  • Trent Boult named the Player of the Match in the final of IPL 2020.
  • Kings XI Punjab skipper KL Rahul bags the Orange Cap.
  • Game Changer of the Season: KL Rahul.
  • Delhi Capitals’ Kagiso Rabada wins the Purple Cap.
  • Emerging Player of the season: Devdutt Padikkal (RCB).
  • Rajasthan Royals speedster Jofra Archer emerges as the Most Valuable Player.

Paris Master 2020: Russian, Daniil Medvedev has won Paris Master 2020 title in tennis. He beat Alexander Zverev 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 in Paris. He has become the fourth Russian to capture the Rolex Paris Masters title.

This is the maiden Paris Masters title of Medvedev.

The World No. 5 joins countrymen Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko and Karen Khachanov on the Paris honour roll.

Paris Masters: It is an annual tennis tournament for male professional players held in Paris, France.

Current Affairs November 1 to November 7

Arts

Purushottam Laxman Deshpande: Purushottam Laxman Deshpande (1919 –2000), was a Marathi writer and humorist. He was popularly known by his initials ("Pu. La.") or as P. L. Deshpande.

He was not only an accomplished film and stage actor, script writer, author but also a composer, musician (he played the harmonium), singer and orator. He was often referred to as "Maharashtra's beloved personality".

He was a recipient of Padma Bhushan (1990), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1967) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (1979).

Recently, he has been marked by Google Doodle on his 101st birth anniversary.

Sarnath: Sarnath is a famous place in Varanasi and it is the destination for cultures like Hindu, Buddha and Jain. It is a small village which is a located 10 kilometres north-east of the holy city of Varanasi city near the confluence of the Ganges and the Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Formerly known as Isipatana, it is famous as the site where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, or where Buddha preached his first sermon. It is also the place where the original Sangha was formed.

This city is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage to which his devout followers should visit.

It was also the site of the Buddha's Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it.

Note: The birthplace of Shreyansanath, the Eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism lies in  Singhpur, a village approximately 1km away from the site.

In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate various development projects in Varanasi including Sarnath Light and Sound show. 

Ganga Utsav 2020: It was a three-day-long Ganga Utsav-2020 which was organized from 2nd November to 4th November 2020. It was organized jointly by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) jointly with the Ministry of Jal Shakti. This annual event was organized virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.

The 2020 edition marks the 12th anniversary of Ganga being accorded the status of National River.

Ganga Utsav is a cultural and educational festival to celebrate the glory of holy river Ganga. On 4th November 2008, Ganga was declared “National River”. Since 2016, every year the NMCG has been celebrating Ganga Utsav on November 4.

The event is organized every year with an aim to spread awareness about river Ganga and the need to keep the river clean and rejuvenated.

Ganges: The Ganges or the Ganga is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh. The Ganges is the national and the longest river of India. The river originates in Gangotri Glacier as River Bhagirathi. Later it joins the Alaknanda at Devprayag.

Ganga is considered a central part of Indian tradition, life and culture. She is a lifeline to millions who live along its course. It is a sacred river and worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. The major tributaries of Ganga river are Yamuna, Kali, Son, Gandak, Ghagra,and RamGanga. The river drains in 11 states namely Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal. The Ganges joins River Brahmaputra and flows into the Bay of Bengal as River Padma in Bangladesh.  The mouth of River Ganga forms the world’s largest delta, known as Sunderbans, and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.

Economics

NPCI: It refers to the National Payment Corporation of India. NPCI is an umbrella organization for all retail payments in India. It was founded in 2008. It has been incorporated as a Not for Profit Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013). It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 for creating a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The current MD & CEO is Dilip Asbe.

Recently, NCPI which manages Unified Payment Interface (UPI), has approved the Facebook backed messaging service WhatsApp to go live on UPI in the multi-bank model. This is to be achieved through new feature of WhatsApp called “WhatsApp Pay”.

WhatsApp, in order to achieve this, has partnered with five banks namely ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Indian Bank, HDFC Bank, and State Bank of India. Apart from these five banks, Jio Payment Bank has also been included.

The messaging app is just a platform that will help transfer the money to other people. The payment feature is being powered by UPI. Now, anyone can send money on WhatsApp to any other user using the UPI supported application.

IREDA: It refers to the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited. IREDA  was set up in 1987 and is the leading financial institution dedicated to clean energy expansion in India. It is a non-banking financial institution.

Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by IREDA with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India (GoI). The MoU was signed for  for setting key targets for the year 2020-21.

The MoU was signed by Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, Secretary, MNRE and Pradip Kumar Das, CMD, IREDA

Under this MoU, the GoI has set a new revenue target of Rs 2,406 crore from the renewable energy industry.

IREDA, until now, has financed more than 2700 renewable energy projects in India by offering a loan of Rs 57,000 crores. It has also supported green power capacity addition of 17,259 MW in India.

MNRE: It is an acronym for the Ministry of Power & Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. MNRE is the nodal Ministry of the Government of India in New Delhi, for all matters relating to new and renewable energy. The ministry was established as the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources in 1992. It started functioning independently with effect from 2nd July, 1992. Earlier it was known as the Ministry of Energy sources. Electricity is a concurrent subject at Entry 38 in List III of the seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. It is mainly responsible for research and development, intellectual property protection, and international cooperation, promotion, and coordination in renewable energy sources such as wind power, small hydro, biogas, and solar power. The current Minister of MNRE R. K. Singh, a Minister of State (Independent Charge).

Defence

Enhanced PINAKA Rocket: The enhanced version of Pinaka multi-barrel rocket system (MRLS) was successfully flight tested by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The test-flight was carried out from Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha.

This enhanced version of the Pinaka rocket would replace the existing Pinaka Mk-I rockets. The new variant can hit a target 45 to 60 km away while Mk-1 had a range of 40 km.

The enhanced Pinaka along with guidance Pinaka will cover the range between 60 to 90 kilometres and will be deployed by the Indian Army.

It has been indigenously developed by DRDO. The design and development has been carried out by Pune based DRDO laboratories, namely Armament Research and Development Establishment, ARDE and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory, HEMRL.

Malabar Naval Exercise: It is a four-day-long phase first of the Malabar naval exercise. The Navies of India, the US, Japan and Australia took part in the exercise which began on the 3rd of November 2020 in the Bay of Bengal.

From the Indian side, destroyer Ranvijay, frigate Shivalik, off-shore patrol vessel Sukanya, fleet support ship Shakti and submarine Sindhuraj was the part of the drill.

US Navy Ship USS John S McCain (Guided-missile destroyer) , Australian Navy Ship HMAS Ballarat (long-range frigate) and Japan Maritime Self Defence Ship (JMSDF) Ship JS Onami (destroyer)  participated along with Indian Navy units.

In first phase of the exercise, navies witnessed complex and advanced naval drills like anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings.

Phase-II is scheduled to be held from November 17 to 20 in the Arabian sea.

This is the first time that the member nations of the Quad or Quadrilateral Coalition is participating in the exercise together after 2007 (Quad member nations are India, the US, Japan and Australia).

The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent member of the exercise in 2015.

Environment

NGP: It refers to the Namami Gange Project. The NGP is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as 'Flagship Programme' by the Union Government in June 2014 with budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 Crore. It's primary twin objectives is to accomplish the effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.

The programme is being implemented by National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMGC) along with its State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs). It is being operated under the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.

The main pillars of the programme are - Sewage Treatment Infrastructure & Industrial Effluent Monitoring, River-Front Development & River-Surface Cleaning, Bio-Diversity & Afforestation and Public Awareness.

Recently, Chacha Chaudhary, the iconic Indian superhero, whose brain works faster than a computer, has been selected as the brand ambassador for the centrally-sponsored NamamiGangeProgramme.

This new ‘Talking Comics’ will be conceptualized and published by Diomand Toons which launches the comic books of Chacha Chaudhary.

Chacha Chaudhary's character will spread awareness on the cultural and spiritual significance of River Ganga and deploy best available knowledge across the masses for Ganga rejuvenation.

The teaser was released during Ganga Utsav 2020.

Great Barrier Reef: The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system. The reef is  is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia and can be seen from outer space. It is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. The structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. It supports a wide diversity of life. It was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. It was also labeled as one of the seven natural wonders of the world by CNN. It was named as a state icon of Queensland by the Queensland National Trust.

Recently, a massive detached reef has been discovered by the Australian Scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute. It is the first to be discovered in 12 decades. The reef is taller than the Empire State Building (1,224 ft (373.1 m)) of the United States of America and Eiffel Tower in Paris.

It was discovered while the team was conducting underwater mapping of the Great Barrier Reef Seafloor. They were on an exploration in the Falkor vessel around Australia.

The team used an underwater robot named SuBastian to explore the reef and the footage of the exploration was live streamed.

 About the Reef: The “blade like” reef is nearly 500 metres tall and 1.5 kilometres wide. It lies 40 metres below the ocean surface and about 6kilometres from the edge of Great Barrier Reef. The newly discovered reef adds to the seven other tall detached reefs in the world making the total to eight detached reefs.

Detached reefs: A "detached" reef refers to a reef bedded to the ocean floor and not part of the main body of the Great Barrier Reef. 

SuBastian: It is an underwater robot that is being deployed by the team in the newly discovered reef. The robot has a remotely controlled arm to collect samples for identification.

Panna National Reserve: Panna National Park is located in Panna and Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh in India. Panna is spread over an area of 542.67 km square. In 1993, Panna National Park was declared as the 22nd Tiger reserve of India and 5th in Madhya Pradesh.

Recently, UNESCO has included Panna Biosphere region as one of its Biosphere Reserve. The Panna National Reserve was included under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere programme. The Park was included as biosphere reserve in the country by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest on 25 August 2011.

 Biosphere Reserve:Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal or marine ecosystems or its amalgamation. The criterion for designation of Biosphere Reserve includes focus on the following three things:

1. Conservation of cultural diversity and biodiversity.

2. Economic development that is environmentally and socio-culturally sustainable.

3. Development through research, education, monitoring and training.

The biosphere reserve network was launched in 1971 by UNESCO, two years after the initiation of MAB- Man and the biosphere program.

The government of India has established 18 biospheres in the country (categories generally relating to IUCN Category V Protected areas).

Indian Policy

Prasar Bharati: It is the public broadcaster of India. Recently, in landmark step the broadcasting agency entered into a MoU with Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-Informatics, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Fifty one DTH education TV channels will be available as DD co-branded channels to all DD FreeDish viewers.

This main aim of this move is to bring quality educational programmes to every household, including those in rural and remote areas.

The services will be available free of cost for all the viewers 24x7. It is in line with Government’s commitment towards skill development and providing quality education to the last person in the country.

Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020: The President of India Ram Nath Kovind recently promulgated the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 to further amend Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996.

The Ordinance aims to ensure that all the stakeholders get an opportunity to seek unconditional stay of enforcement of arbitral awards where the underlying arbitration agreement or contract or making of the arbitral award are induced by fraud or corruption.

The ordinance seeks to ensure that stakeholder parties can seek an unconditional stay on enforcement of arbitral awards in cases where the “arbitration agreement or contract is induced by fraud or corruption.”

It also does away with the 8th Schedule of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which contained the necessary qualifications for accreditation of arbitrators.

Furthermore, through the Ordinance, a provision has been added to Section 36 whereby if the Court is satisfied that a prima facie case is made out that the arbitration agreement or contract which is the basis of the award was induced or effected by fraud or corruption, it will stay the award unconditionally pending disposal of the challenge made to the award under Section 34.

Arbitration: Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution, is a way to resolve disputes outside the courts. The dispute will be decided by one or more persons, which renders the 'arbitration award'. An arbitration award is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts.

Arbitration award: Arbitration award refers to the decision of an arbitrator. This award can be in the form of money that one party has to pay to the other party or it can be a non-financial award, such as adding an employment incentive or stopping a certain business.

UMI: It refers to the Urban Mobility India. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India issued the National Urban Transport Policy, 2006 (NUTP). As part of the NUTP enunciations, the Ministry has taken the initiative to organize an annual international Conference-cum-Exhibition on Urban Mobility India popularly known as UMI.

Recently, the 13th Urban Mobility India Conference 2020 organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) on 9th November 2020. It was held virtually on the theme " Emerging Trends in Urban Mobility." The UMI Confereance 2020 was inaugurated by Minister of State-MoS (Independent Charge-IC) Hardeep Singh Puri.

The primary objective of the conference was to disseminate information to the cities, whose officials attend the conference.

This year's theme focuses on innovative measures taken at national and international level to address the challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic to provide accessible and convenient transport to the people.

Indian polity

ECI: It refers to Election Commission of India. The ECI is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. It was formed on 25 January 1950. It’s headquartered in New Delhi.It functions under the jurisdiction of Government of India.

Recently, the ECI decided to organize a three-day International Virtual Election Visitors Programme 2020 (IEVP) in the context of the ongoing Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections. The IEVP programme is meant for Foreign Election Management Bodies and Organizations.

More than 40 countries participated in the programme. The delegates included from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malawi, Maldives, Moldova, Mongolia, Mauritius, Nepal, Philippines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Zambia. Along with these countries 3 international organizations such as International IDEA, 

International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES) and Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) also participated in the programme.

The main objective of conducting this programme  is to provide unique overview of SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) programme.

The ECI not only provided a virtual tour to the polling stations in Bihar to the participating countries but also shared its knowledge and technology being implemented in conducting elections.

Earlier, the ECI had launched this prgramme during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, elections for a few State Assemblies in February-March 2017 and Lok Sabha Elections last year. This time ECI chose Bihar as the state has one of the largest electorates in the world. There are above 72 million electorates. Therefore, the ongoing election process, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic will provide an opportunity to share the best practices and experience with the world.

SWEEP: The full form of SWEEP is Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation. SWEEP is a flagship programme of ECI that focuses on voter education and spreads awareness about voter literacy. The main objective of this programme is to build a truly participative democracy in the nation by encouraging all eligible citizens to vote and make an informed decision during the elections.

It is based on the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation.

International

UNGA: It refers to the United Nations General Assembly. UNGA is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Member States of the UN, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of international issues including peace and security. It was formed in 1985. It is headquartered in New York, New York, United States. The current President of UNGA is Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

Recently, the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted two resolutions sponsored by India which call for the prohibition of nuclear weapons and reduce the risks of accidental use of nuclear weapons in the world.

The two resolutions were named:

 1. Convention on the Prohibition of the use of Nuclear Weapons

2. Reducing Nuclear Danger'', under the ''Nuclear Weapons'' cluster.

These resolutions manifest India's commitment towards the goal of nuclear disarmament.

Convention on the Prohibition of the use of Nuclear Weapons: The resolution was tabled by India since 1982 in the General Assembly, which requests the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

The resolution is supported by a majority of UN members. The adoption of resolutions shows India’s conviction that such a multilateral, universal and legally binding agreement would generate the necessary political will among States possessing nuclear weapons to engage in negotiations leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Reducing Nuclear Danger: The resolution was tabled since 1998. It draws global attention to the risks of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons and underscores the need for a review of nuclear doctrines. It calls for concrete steps to reduce such risks, including through de-alerting and de-targeting of nuclear weapons.

UNGA First Committee: The UNGA first committee deals with the issue of disarmament and works in close cooperation with the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, the other two bodies to deal with the nuclear issue.

CD: It refers to the Conference on Disarmament. CD was formed in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum of the international community. The agreement was reached among Member states during the first special session of UNGA devoted to disarmament (1978). It is the successor to the TNDC (Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament), Geneva, 1960, the ENDC ( Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament, Geneva, 1962-68 and the CCD ( Conference of the Committee on Disarmament, Geneva 1969-78.

India-GCC Troika Dialogue: India and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)Troika held their annual Political Dialogue. It was held recently on 3 November 2020 in virtual mode.

The Indian Delegation was led by the Foreign Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar while, the GCC was represented at the Troika-level by Secretary General of GCC, Minister of External Affairs, Bahrain and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, United Arab Emirates. Representatives from Quatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia also participated in the dialogue.

During the dialogue:

  • The leaders undertook detailed review of India-GCC ties and appreciated the upward trajectory in ties witnessed in the last few years.
  • GCC expressed its gratitude for India's inclusion in the UNSC as a non-permanent member from January 2021.
  • India ensured that the supply chains from India to the Gulf countries are not disrupted amid the nationwide lockdowns during the COVID-19 and India also requested the members of GCC to ease the return of Indian professionals and workers to the Gulf countries.

 

GCC: It refers to the Gulf Cooperation Council. GCC is an intergovernmental economic and political union. It comprises of Arab states such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE. The Charter to establish the Gulf Cooperation Council was signed on 25 May 1981. The structure of GCC consists of the Supreme Council, the Ministerial Council and the Secretariat general. The secretariat is headquartered at Riyadh.

The main objectives of the council are to formulate regulations in trade, tourism, administration and customs. It establishes scientific research centres.

Mississippi: It is a state in the Deep South region of the United States. It is bordered to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. The capital of Mississippi is Jackson.

Recently, the voters in Mississippi approved a new flag, “The New Magnolia”, featuring a magnolia flower. The new flag is designed by Rocky Vaughan and features a white magnolia on a blue banner with red and gold bars on each end. The flower is encircled in 20 five-point stars and the words “In God We Trust”. An additional star on the flag represents the indigenous Native Americans.

Mississippi is nicknamed the “Magnolia State”, a reference to the magnolia trees that grow there.

The new flag will replace the old one that has been in use for 126 years. The old flag carries the Confederate battle emblem on it. Mississippi was the last state in the US to have a flag that featured the Confederate battle emblem.

India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave: The first India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave was held virtually on 5 November 2020. India was represented by Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Minister of External Affairs (MEA).

The Tri Conclave was jointly hosted by Foreign Affairs Ministry and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The theme for the conclave was: ‘An Innovation-Driven Partnership for Growth in New World’.

At the conclave, dignitaries focused on clean technologies and renewable energies, AI, supply chain logistics and block chain led transformation.

In 2018, the first Summit of India and Nordic was held in Sweden during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all the five leaders were present.

NB8: Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) is a regional co-operation format that includes Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The Baltic States are Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. These three countries are located in the Baltic Sea and are fast growing economies.

Nordic Council: It was established in 1952. The headquarters of the council is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It provides a link between governments, parliaments of Nordic states. The members of Nordic council are Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Finland joined in 1955.

National

India and Israel: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Israel for cooperation in the field of health and medicine.

The areas covered under the MoU are as follows:

  • Promotion of mutual research.
  • Sharing of expertise against public health actions and climate risks.
  • Exchange and training of medical doctors and other professionals.
  • Assistance in setting up of health care facilities.
  • Exchanging information related to medical devices, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

The representatives of both India and Israel will be encouraged to participate in seminars, workshops, symposia and conferences.

Earlier, in April 2020, Israel supplied advanced medical equipment to help India fight COVID-19. India in return sent five tonnes of medicines including Hydroxychloroquine. A special team of defence experts, researchers also arrived from Israel to join hands with Indian researchers in developing rapid testing solution of CORONAVIRUS.

Under this agreement, the researchers are now developing a CORONAVIRUS testing kit that will produce results in less than 30 seconds.

Fortification of Rice Scheme: Fifteen State Governments have recently identified districts for implementing Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System.

The Government of India"s (GoI) Department of Food and Public Distribution, has been implementing the “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice and its distribution through Public Distribution System”.

The scheme is to be implemented for a period of three years between 2019-20 and 2022-23.

The Pilot Scheme has been approved for a period of three years beginning 2019-2020 with a total budget outlay of Rs.174.6 Crore.

This scheme was launched to take the country towards nutritional security. FCI has been asked to come up with a comprehensive plan for procurement and distribution of fortified rice in all the Districts of the country under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) & Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme from 2021-2022.

The distribution of fortified rice is already being implemented by 5 states namely Andhra Pradesh,Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra  and Chhattisgarh.

Need for Fortification: According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), India has has been ranked at 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020. This is because 58.4 percent of children (6-59 months) are anaemic, 53.1 percent of women in the reproductive age group are anaemic and 35.7 percent of children under 5 are underweight. As per the experts, the deficiency of micronutrients is known as hidden hunger and is a serious health risk, these nutrients help in curbing malnutrition. The fortification initiative seeks to combat high malnutrition, promote food processing industry and also improve customer satisfaction.

Fortification of Rice: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), fortification of rice is done by adding micronutrient powder to the rice. This powder adheres to rice grains. Fortifying rice involves grinding broken rice into powder, mixing it with nutrients, and then shaping it into rice-like kernels using an extrusion process. These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a ratio ranging from 1:50 to 1:200.

FSSAI: It is an acronym for Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. FASSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is the administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI. Its main objective is to establish a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards.

People In News

Dr Susanta Kar: He is a Senior Scientist, Molecular Parasitology and Immunology, CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow. He has been chosen by the Society of Biological Chemists, (India) for this year's Prof.A N Bhaduri Memorial Lecture Award for his contributions towards defining the survival tactics of Leishmania donovani.

About Leishmania Donovani: It is a protozoan parasite that infects macrophages and is a causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis (Kala Azar), a lethal infectious disease affecting millions worldwide.

The research team of Susanta Kar studied the interaction of Leishmania with immune cells like macrophages, dendritic cells and T cells and the fate of these interactions on modulation of various intracellular signaling cascades that ultimately affect immune response and infection progression.

SBC(I): Society of Biological Chemists (India) or SBC(I) was founded in 1930. Its headquarters is at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. This prestigious society was registered under the Societies Act in the then Princely State of Mysore.

A N Bhaduri Memorial Lecture Award: The Prestigious award is conferred in every 2 years. The recipient of the award should be below 50 years of age. The Award is given for Biological Chemistry and Allied sciences, preferably related to parasitic infections.

Yashvardhan K Sinha: He is a former diplomat, who  has served as high commissioner of India to the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka. He was appointed as the Information commissioner in 2019. He was recently appointed as the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of India. He was administered the oath by the President Ram Nath Kovind.

The post of CIC was lying vacant since the retirement of Bimal Julka on August 26, 2020.

Apart from Sinha, three new Information Commissioners were also administered the oath of office, by the newly appointed CIC. They are:

1. Shri Heeralal Samariya who is a former IAS officer, who served as Secretary in Ministry of Labour & Employment

 2. Ms. Saroj Punhani who is an IA&AS officer, who was holding the post of Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General (HR & Training)

3. Shri Uday Mahurkar who is a veteran journalist, was functioning as Senior Deputy Editor with a leading media house.

CIC: It refers to the Chief Information Commissioner. Eligibility of CIC under Section 12(6) of the Right to Information Ac, 2005 says that the CIC and the Information Commissioners shall not be a Member of Parliament. Section 12(5) of the Act states that he should a person of eminence in public life, experience in law, science and technology.

The CIC will hold office for three years. Earlier it was five years

The roles and functions of the CIC are defined by the right to Information Act, 2005. The act also defines the tenure, terms of service and salaries of the commissioner.

Central Information Commission: It was constituted in 2005. It acts upon complaints from individuals those who are not able to submit information to a Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer.

Rajiv Jalota: He is a 1988 batch Maharashtra cadre IAS officer. He is currently serving as the additional chief secretary in the higher and technical education department of the state government. He first served as sales tax commissioner and then as GST commissioner from January 2015 to January 2020.

He has recently been appointed as chairperson of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on the proposal of the Shipping Ministry.

The post of Mumbai Port Trust chairman was vacant after former chairman Sanjay Bhatia retired on 31st July and was appointed as Lokayukta of Maharashtra (Established in 1971).

Places In News

DMC: It refers to the Dehradun Municipal Corporation. DMC of Uttarakhand recently launched an initiative named "Plastic Lao MASK LE JAO" to fight against the menace of plastic waste and contain the spread of Covid-19. Under this initiative, it has distributed five thousand face masks in exchange for plastic waste.

Municipal commissioner of Dehradun, Vinay Shankar Pandey by being the first to bring plastic waste from his house and get a face mask created awareness in the public against plastic waste and also the importance of masks.

Uttarakhand: It is a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas. It is known for the natural environment of the Himalayas, the Bhabar and the Terai and also for for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. It is often referred to as the "Devabhumi" (literally "Land of the Gods"). Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India On 9 November 2000. it was carved from the Himalayan districts of Uttar Pradesh. Its winter Capital is Dehradun and summer capital is Gairsain. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttarakhand are Trivendra Singh Rawat and Baby Rani Maurya respectively.

Assam: Assam is a state in northeastern India known for its wildlife, archeological sites and tea plantations. It is situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. The state was the first site for oil drilling in Asia. Its capital is Dispur. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Assam are Professor Jagdish Mukhi and Sarbananda Sonowal respectively.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation stone of Indo-Israeli Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Vegetables Protected Cultivation at Khetri on the outskirts of Guwahati.

The Indo-Israeli Centre of Excellence for Vegetables Protected Cultivation will be built under the Agricultural Project of India and is estimated to be set up at an investment of Rs 10.33 Crore.

The CoE aims to provide exposure to the latest Israeli technologies to the farmers of Assam which will help them in maximizing their production and income. Furthermore the facility will boost agricultural and horticultural production in Assam leading to greater economic rewards to state’s farmers.

Kerala: It is a state on the southwestern Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganization Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions of the erstwhile states of Travancore-Cochin and Madras. It is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Lakshadweep Sea to the west. Its capital is Thiruvananthapuram. The current Governor and Chief Minister of Kerala are Arif Mohammad Khan and Pinarayi Vijayan respectively.

Recently, Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated India’s first of its kind solar energy-driven miniature train. It was inaugurated at the Veli Tourist Village.

The train, developed with an outlay of Rs 10 crore was a part of a string of projects totally worth Rs 60 crore taken up to elevate the facilities at the panoramic destination to international standards. The train will be an attraction for children especially.

The Chief Minister also dedicated an “Urban Park” and a swimming pool at the eco-friendly tourist village, located on the outskirts of the state capital where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea.

Features of the Train: The miniature rail has all the features of a fully- equipped rail system.  It includes a tunnel, station and a ticket office. It covers a distance of 2.5 km with three bogies that can accommodate around 45 people at a time.

The eco-friendly solar-powered 2.5 km miniature railway will enable visitors to enjoy the beauty of nature.

The surplus energy generated by the system will be routed to the Kerala State Electricity Board Limite (KSEBl) grid.

Formation Day: The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu greeted people of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab,  Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Anadman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep and Puducherry on their formation day.

All the above mentioned states observe their foundation day or Statehood day respectively.

Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan  paid rich tributes to Sri Potti Sriramulu and paid homage to freedom fighters on the occasion of AndhraPradesh Formation Day at  a programme held in Raj Bhavan. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy unfurled the national flag at his official residence at Tadepalli, Guntur District, He paid floral tributes at the statue of freedom fighter, Potti Sriramulu and Telugu Thalli.

Science and Technology

ISRO: It is an abbreviaion for the Indian Space Research Organizatin.  ISRO is the space agency of the Government of India (GoI) and was formed in 15 august 1969. It superseded the erstwhile “Indian National Committe For Space Research” (INCOSPAR) which was established in 1962 by the efforts of Independent India's first prime minister‚ Jawaharlal Nehru‚ and his close aide and scientist Vikram Sarabhai. In 1972, the Government of India had set up a Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS), bringing ISRO under the DOS. ISRO then embarked on its mission to provide the Nation space based services and to develop the technologies to achieve the same independently. Its vision is to “harness space technology for natural development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration”. ISRO built India’s first Satellite Aryabhata. It is headquartered in Bangalore, India. The current Chairman of ISRO is K sivan.

Recently, ISRO successfully launched the 51st mission of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). This is the first mission by ISRO in 2020. The carrier vehicle PSLV C49 will deliver 10 satellites in all with EOS-01 as the primary one.

The launch was carried out from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

EOS-01: It is an earth observation satellite launched by ISRO using PSLV-C49 rocket  along with nine customer satellites. The satellite is intended to provide agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.

The nine customer satellites are from 1 from Lithuania, 4 from Luxembourg and 4 from USA. The customer satellites were being launched under a commercial agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), department of space.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard.

Recently, NASA reported that on the 28th of April 2020, it observed a mix of X-ray and radio signals. This was detected by the CHIME telescope. This has never been observed earlier in the galaxy. Significantly, the flare-up it observed included the first fast radio burst (FRB) in Milky Way. Though the Fast Radio Bursts were discovered in 2007 during a pulsar survey data but it is for the first time that such phenomenon has occurred in the Milky Way Galaxy. However, the origin of Radio Bursts has not yet been located.

The detection of the phenomenon called FRB was published in the journal Nature on November 4.

 

Origin: The source of the FRB detected in April in the Milky Way Galaxy was from a very powerful magnetic neutron star, referred to as a magnetar, called SGR 1935+2154 or SGR 1935. It is located in the constellation Vulpecula and is estimated to be between 14,000-41,000 light-years away.

The X-ray bursts lasted for less than a second and the radio burst, on the other hand, lasted for a thousandth of a second and was thousands of times brighter than any other radio emissions from magnetars ever seen in the Milky Way.

This was the brightest of the any other radio transmissions from magnetars. The FRB-associated burst was exceptional maybe because it likely occurred at or close to the magnetar’s magnetic pole.

This flare-up, which lasted for hours, was picked up by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space telescope and NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), which is an X-ray telescope mounted on the International Space Station.

Fast Radio Bursts: Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are bright bursts of radio waves produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields. The duration of these bursts last only for millisecond-scale. Due to this short duration of occurrence, it is highly difficult to detect Fast Radio Bursts and determine their position in the sky.

CHIME Telescope: The full form of CHIME is Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment. CHIME is a radio telescope located at Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Kaleden, British Columbia, Canada. It is used for receiving radio waves.

Magnetar: A magnetar is a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field. According to NASA, a magnetar is a neutron star, “the crushed, city-size remains of a star many times more massive than our Sun.”

The magnetic field of such a star is very powerful, which can be over 10 trillion times stronger than a refrigerator magnet and up to a thousand times stronger than a typical neutron star’s. A magnetar's magnetic field gives rise to very strong and characteristic bursts of X-rays and gamma rays. The active life of a magnetar is short.

Sports

F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix 2020: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-Great Britain) has won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix 2020.  Formula One motor race took place on 1 November 2020 at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy.

This was his 9th win of the season and 93rd F1 win of his career. Mercedes won the seventh consecutive constructors’ title for 2020 breaking the record for the most consecutive World Constructors' Championships.

Valtteri Bottas finished second while Daniel Ricciardo finished third.

Alexis Vastine International: Indian boxers Amit Panghal, Sanjeet and Ashish Kumar have won gold medals at the recently concluded Alexis Valentine International Boxing Tournament held in Nantes, France.

The tournament was the first international event that Indian boxers were a part of since the lockdown.

Amit Panghal won the gold in the 52 kg-weight category, Sanjeet won in the 91 kg final bout while Ashish Kumar won the gold medal in the 75 kg weight category.

Kavinder Singh Bisht won silver in the 57 kg weight category while Shiva Thapa (63 kg), Sumit Sangwan (81 kg) and Satish Kumar (Over 91 kg) secured the bronze medals for India.

Current Affairs October 25 to October 31

Arts

Life in Miniature Project: The project is a combination between the Ministry of Culture, National Museum, New Delhi, and Google Arts & Culture. It was launched by the Union Ministry of Culture in late October 2020.

The main objective of the project is to allow online viewing of various hundred small-scale paintings (like Royal Saga, the Ramayana, Pahari style paintings) from the National Museum, New Delhi on Google Arts & Culture by people all over the world.

The project not only highlights upon the importance of the Digital India mission but also spotlights the role of technology in the conservation of India’s heritage.

Technologies like augmented reality, machine learning and digitization with HD robotic cameras are used in the project. It also uses techniques to showcase these exceptional works of art in a supernatural new way.

Miniature Painting: Miniature paintings are colorful handmade paintings which are very small in size. The main feature of these paintings is intricate brushwork that gives it a unique identity.

History of Miniature Painting: The earliest Miniature paintings in India can be traced back to the 7th century AD, when the Palas ruled over the eastern part of India. It was Buddhism in the east where religious writings were written beneath the images of Lord Buddha. It was Jainism that inspired the miniature artistic movement of the Western Indian style of miniature painting. During the Mughal Empire, the miniature paintings started emerging on a different level.

Pala School: The initial Indian miniature paintings are associated with the Pala School of art which dates back to the 8th century A.D. This school of painting focused on the symbolic utilization of colors. The themes were frequently taken from the Buddhist tantric rituals.

Odisha School: The Odisha School of miniature painting came into an existence during the 7th Century A.D.. Most of the paintings depict the love stories of Radha and Krishna. Painting also shows the stories from ‘Gita Govinda’ and ‘Krishna Leela’.

Jain School: The Jain School of painting became popular during 11th century A.D.  During this century, the sacred texts like ‘Kalpa Sutra’ and ‘Kalkacharya Katha’ were portrayed in the form of miniature paintings.

Mughal School: The combination of Indian paintings and Persian miniature paintings resulted in the Mughal School of miniature painting.  The Mughal style of painting became popular from 16th to 18th centuries, especially during the reign of Akbar.  Scenes from the king court, wildlife, hunting expeditions and battles were frequently shown through these paintings.  Humayun and Jahangir emphasized on paintings that portrayed events from their real life. During Shah Jahan’s reign painters began giving significance to portraiture.

Rajasthani School: The fall of the Mughal miniature painting gave rise to the Rajasthani School.  Rajasthani School of painting can be distributed into different schools depending on the region they were created in – The Mewar School, Hadoti School, Dhundar School,  Kangra and Kullu Schools of art are all segments of Rajasthani School of painting.  Similarly the Mughal Emperors, the Rajput rulers were also beloved of art. They gave their patronage to miniature paintings.

Pahari School: Pahari School of miniature painting came up in the 17th century A.D.  These paintings were created in the kingdoms of North India, in the Himalayan region.  Affected by the Mughal School and the Rajasthani School of miniature paintings, the Pahari style of paintings prospered in the Jammu and Garhwal regions from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Deccan School: The Deccan School of miniature painting gained popularity in towns like Ahmednagar, Golconda, Hyderabad, Tanjore, and Bijapur from the 16th to 19th century A.D.  The Deccan School of miniature painting was largely affected by the rich customs and traditions of the Deccan and the sacred beliefs of Turkey, Iran and Persia.

Economics

Union Cabinet:  The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) recently approved that 100% of the food-grains and 20% of the sugar shall be mandatorily packed in jute bags.

The approval will help in diversifying jute industries. As per the decisions, initially 10% of the indents of jute bags for packing food grains would be placed through reverse auction on the Gem portal.

The Government has expanded the scope of mandatory packaging norms under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987. However, when in shortage of jute bags, the Ministry of Textiles can ease the provisions to 30% of food grains (to be packed).

As more than 3.7 lakh workers are dependent in jute sector for their livelihood in India so the approval aims to benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in the states of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.

The Support provided to the Jute Sector are as follows:

The National Jute Board has collaborated with National Institute of Design and a Jute Design Cell has been opened at Gandhinagar.

Jute Corporation signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Seeds Corporation to distribute 10,000 quintals of certified seeds with an objective to increase the quality and productivity of jute crops

With a view to boost demand in the jute sector, Government of India (GoI) imposed Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal since January 2017.

With a view to promoting transparency in jute sector, Jute SMART, an e-govt initiative was launched in December, 2016, providing an integrated platform for procurement of B-Twill sacking by Government agencies.

India-Japan: The union Cabinet on 29 October 2020 approved the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed between India and Japan on Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies.

Benefits of the MoC:

The Memorandum will strengthen cooperation between both the countries in the field of communications.

The agreement aims to help in cooperation in the field of telecom security, 5G, submarine cable, utilization of latest wireless technologies,  standard certification of communication equipment Disaster relief, Artificial Intelligence (AI), block chain, spectrum management, and cooperation on multilateral platforms.

It will not only help India increase its opportunities of getting into Global Standardization Process but it will also help in promoting Indian human capacity in the field of ICT thereby realizing the objectives of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

IFSCA: It refers to the International Financial Services Centre Authorities. During the board meeting of IFSCA held recently two new regulations were approved. They are:

1. International Financial Services Centre authorities Bullion exchange regulations, 2020

2. International financial services Centre authorities  Global inhouse centres regulation, 2020

1. International Financial Services Centres Authorities (Bullion Exchange) regulations, 2020:

The Government of India (GoI), based on the recommendation of the IFSC authorities, notified the bullion spot delivery contract and bullion depository receipt (with bullion as underlying) as Financial Products and related services as Financial Services under the IFSCA Act, 2019 on August 31, 2020 as financial products and related services as financial services. The International Financial Services Centre Authorities was tasked to operate this bullion exchange. For the first time a single authority regulated both the derivative contract and the bullion spot.

The Authority approved the draft bullion regulations in its meeting today, which paves the way for setting up the entire ecosystem for bullion trading, namely, bullion exchange, depository, clearing house and vaults.

The salient aspects of the bullion exchange regulations were identified as follows:

  • The gender obligations and functions of bullion exchange
  • The governance and ownership structure of the bullion exchange
  • The obligations and rights of Bullion depositary is beneficial owners and participants
  • The grant of registration
  • Role of Bullion repositories

The bullion regulation will integrate all the above platforms to facilitate transparency and permeability in the bullion market.

2. IFSCA (Global in-house Centre) circulation 2020:

The Government of India (GoI), based on the recommendation of the IFSC authorities notified Global inhouse centres as financial services. These centres will provide services related to financial products.

The salient features of the regulation of global inhouse centres are as follows:

  • Global In-house Centres (GIC) can conduct its business in any mode that are listed by the authority
  • The applicant entity shall exclusively serve to its financial services group wherein the entities served must be located in a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) compliant jurisdiction.
  • Entities being serviced must be located in a FATF complaint jurisdiction.

Global inhouse centre setup within the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) is valid with concession applicable to IFSC units

Bullion Market: Bullion market is a market through which the buyers and sellers trade gold and silver.

Defence

74th Infantry Day: The 74th Infantry Day was recently celebrated by the Chinar Corps celebrated on October 27, 2020, to honour the supreme sacrifice of the gallant soldiers in fighting the Pakistani invaders, in Jammu and Kashmir, in 1947.

Every year, October 27 is celebrated as Infantry Day by the Indian Army in Jammu & Kashmir (known by the nickname, Chinar Corps).

History: Infantry Day is celebrated as a remembrance of the first military event of independent India, when the First Battalion of the Sikh Regiment of Indian Army fought battle to accomplish victory over the first attack on the Indian soil by the Pakistan Army and Lashkar invaders on 27th October 1947, in the Kashmir valley, who tried to take over Jammu and Kashmir.

SAI: The full form of SAI is "Secure Application for Internet." SAI is a simple and secure messaging application developed by the Indian Army in the quest for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. This messaging app that has been launched by the Indian Army will provide secure voice, text and video calling services to its soldiers.

SAI supports end to end secure voice, text and video calling services for Android platform over internet. This application will be utilized pan Army to facilitate secure messaging within the service.

The model is similar to commercially available messaging applications like SAMVAD, GIMS,  Whatsapp and Telegram. It utilizes end to end encryption messaging protocol. SAI scores over on security features with local in-house servers and coding which can be tweaked as per requirements.

The application has been vetted by CERT-in empanelled auditor and Army Cyber Group.

BECA: It refers to the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement. India and the United States have recently signed BECA Agreement (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation) during the third round of 2+2 Ministerial dialogue. The agreement was signed on October 27, 2020. 

The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geo-spatial cooperation is primarily a communication agreement proposed between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US Department of Defence and the Union Ministry of Defence.

BECA aims to enhance the geospatial cooperation between India and the US.

The BECA agreement will provide the militaries of the two nations with access to extremely accurate geo-spatial data, high-end military technology and classified satellite data on defence-related issues. The agreement will enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.

Through the sharing of information on maps and satellite images, it will help India access topographical and aeronautical data, and advanced products that will aid in navigation and targeting.

BECA is the last of 4 foundational agreements for sharing sensitive information and sales of advanced military hardware.

The other 3 agreements are:

 1. GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) in 2002.

2. LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) in 2016

3. COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018

These agreements covered areas including security and military information, compatibility and security and logistics exchange and communications. The agreement also includes the provision of sharing classified information as well, with proper safeguards to ensure that it is not shared with any third party.

Environment

GONI: It is the name of the Super Typhoon that slammed into the Philippines. The authorities warned of “catastrophic” conditions in the region expected to receive the hardest hit, where nearly a million people have been evacuated.

The strongest typhoon of the year so far made landfall on Catanduanes Island with maximum sustained wind speeds of 225 kilometres (140 miles) per hour.

Goni intensified into a “super” typhoon as it neared the Philippines. It comes a week after Typhoon Molave hit the same region of the natural disaster-prone archipelago.

Super Typhoon: Since 2009, the Hong Kong Observatory has divided typhoons into three different classifications. They are typhoon, severe typhoon and super typhoon.

1. A typhoon has wind speed of 64–79 knots (73–91 mph; 118–149 km/h).

2. A severe typhoon has winds of at least 80 knots (92 mph; 150 km/h),

3.  Super typhoon has winds of at least 100 knots (120 mph; 190 km/h).

ISZ: It refers to the Indus Suture Zone or the suture zone of the Himalayas in the Ladakh region where Indian & Asian Plates are joined. It was found ISZ to be tectonically active, as against current understanding that it is a locked zone.

A group of Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun (autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology), have found the active zone through observations and detailed mapping of geological features. The study was published recently in the journal ‘Technophysics’.

Scientists have done the mapping of the remote regions of Ladakh region that forms the most hinterland part of the Himalayas.

As per the analysis of the geologists, the sedimentary beds are tilted and thrust broken, the rivers are associated with uplifted terraces, and the bedrock shows brittle deformation that occurred at much shallower depths.

These deformed geological features were then dated in the laboratory at Dehradun using a technique called Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) (method for carrying Luminescence dating of geological sediments) and data of seismicity and denudation rate reviewed.

The combination of field and lab data suggested the region of the Indus Suture Zone (ISZ) has been neo-tectonically active since the last 78000 — 58000 years and a recent earthquake in 2010 of low magnitude 4.0 near the village of Upshi that occurred due to a thrust rupture.

This may have major implications in terms of earthquake study, prediction, understanding the seismic structure of the mountain chains well as its evolution.

Himalaya were known to be made up of north dipping thrusts like the - Main Central Thrust (MCT), Main Boundary Thrust (MBT), and Main Frontal Thrust (MFT).

As per the established models, all of these thrusts except MFT are locked, and overall deformation in Himalaya is being accommodated only along with the MFT.

The new findings, which suggest a more remote fault at the suture zone being neo-tectonically active, could call for a serious relook into the existing evolutionary models using new techniques and a larger geological database.

Air Quality Management Commission in NCR: The President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind recently promulgated an ordinance to constitute a Commission for air quality management commission (AQC) for Air Quality Management (AQM) in the NCR and the areas adjoining it.

Function of the Commission:

The commission will work to ensure better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas.

It will have the powers to take all such measures, issue directions and entertain complaints in order to protect and improve the quality of air.

It will lay down the parameters for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources.

Members: The members of the Quality commission will include the Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and five other Secretary or Chief Secretary level officials as ex-officio members. The commission will also consist of a chairperson, members from the state of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Haryana. It will consist of members from ISRO and Central Pollution Control Board too.

Sub-Committees: The Commission will have at least three sub-committees.

1. Monitoring and identification

2. Safeguarding and Enforcement and Research

3. Development to suggest measures to curb air pollution in the region.

Indian Policy

NPMPF: It refers to the National Program and Project Management Policy Framework. The NPMPF was recently launched by the think tank NITI Aayog and Quality Council of India (QCI) in partnership with an aim to transform the infrastructure sector of India. It has been developed by the NITI Aayog and QCI.

It was launched by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Amitabh Kant and Adil Zainulbhai.

 Nitin Gadkari also unveiled, ‘Indian Infrastructure Body of Knowledge (InBoK)’ which is a book on the practice of program and project management in India and also to serve as a reference medium for all practitioners of infra sector industry.

NPMPF frame work will help in realizing the Prime Minister’s vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat by building a stronger India.

It will ensure the quality infrastructure by reduce costs and waste material.

It will not compromise on the environment and ecology.

It will further ensure time-bound and result-oriented delivery of projects.

It will also ensure the transparency, monitoring, accountability, corruption-free system and a fast-track decision-making process.

The main aim of NPMPF framework is to formulate radical reforms with an action plan as follows:

1. To adopt a program and project management strategies to infra development.

2. Institutionalize and promote profession of program and project management.

3. To build skilled workforce for this profession.

4. Enhance institutional capacity and capabilities in professionals. 

Meri Saheli: It is the name given to an initiative that has been launched by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) for focused action on security of women across all zones.

The initiative was launched with an aim of providing safety and security to the women passengers who will be travelling by trains for their whole journey from the starting station to the destination station.

The main features of Meri Saheli Initiative are as follows:

A team of lady officer and staff have been formed under the new initiative, which will visit all passenger coaches of the train including ladies coaches, to identify women passengers.

The team will note down their journey details like coach number and seat number, especially if a lady is travelling alone on the train.

These lady passengers will be briefed about all precautions to be taken during the journey and told to dial 182 in case they face or see any problem in the coach.

The platform duty RPF personnel at the stopping stations en-route will keep a watch over the concerned coaches and berths and if need arises, they will also interact with the lady passengers.

Initially, the “Meri Saheli” initiative has been introduced in two trains. They are Mumbai Central-Jaipur Superfast Express and Bandra Terminus-Amritsar Special.

Note: The “Meri Saheli” initiative was started as a pilot project in South Eastern Railway in September 2020. After getting encouraging response from lady passengers, it was extended to all the zones and Konkan Railway with effect from October 17, 2020.

Indian polity

Krishi Upad Mandi (Amendment) Bill 2020: The Chhattisgarh Assembly recently passed the Krishi Upad Mandi (Amendment) Bill 2020, to invalidate the Centre’s recently-notified agriculture legislations in one day session with an overwhelming majority.

Chhattisgarh Krishi Upad Mandi (Amendment) Bill 2020 passed by the Assembly gives powers to the state government to regulate all agricultural produce markets.

It introduces a new concept of deemed markets which includes cold storages and silos.

It makes provision for establishment of an electronic trading place under the state control.

It makes it mandatory for a purchaser to submit his records and stocks for inspection and introduces jail term extending up to six months for violation of the legislation.

One of the key provisions of the Chhattisgarh Agriculture Produce Market (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is that the state government has introduced the concept of deemed market and electronic payment systems if necessary and given state agencies control over these.

Deemed markets would include cold storage, silos, warehouse, electronic trading and transaction platforms.

With the amendment, the state government desires to limit the entry of any corporate or private entity as it would control all these operations and at the same time if a private entity enters into agreement with farmers then it would have to submit its accounts and stocks to state scrutiny.

The Chhattisgarh Agricultural Produce Market (Amendment) Bill seeks to protect the interests of the poor, laborers and consumers. The state government hopes to limit the entry of any corporate or private entity as it would control all these operations.

Chhattisgarh has become the second Congress ruled state after Punjab to inact its own farm laws to protect its farmers from the agri-reform laws.

Note: Earlier, 3 farm bills were passed by the centre. They were:

1. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill,

2. The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill,and

3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.

The farm bills were passed for the following reasons:

To Spilt the monopoly of government-manage mandis and also to permit farmers to sell directly to private buyers.

To allow agri-businesses to stock food articles.

To remove the government’s ability to thrust restrictions arbitrarily.

To give a legal framework for farmers to enter into written contract with organization and produce for them.

Ministry of Shipping: The Ministry of Shipping is a branch of the Government of India (GoI). It is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to shipping. It was founded in 2018. Maritime transport is a critical infrastructure for the social and economic development of a country. It represents the pace, structure and pattern of development of water transport in the country. The Ministry of Shipping encompasses the shipping and port sectors which include shipbuilding and repair, major ports, national waterways and inland water transport. The ministry has been entrusted with the responsibility to formulate policies and programmes on these subjects and their implementation. The current Minister responsible for the Ministry of Shipping is Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Minister of State (Independent Charge).

Recently, the Shipping Ministry issued the draft of Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 for suggestions from the stakeholders and general public.

A Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 has been drafted by the shipping Ministry in lieu of part XIV of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The global best practices have also been considered while drafting this Bill.

Highlights of the Bill are as follows:

The definition of coastal shipping and coastal waters has been expanded.

It is proposed to do away with the requirement of trading licence for Indian flag vessels for coastal trade.

The Bill seeks to create a competitive environment and reduce transportation costs, while encouraging Indian vessels to increase their share in coastal shipping.

The Bill also proposes integration of coastal maritime transport with inland waterways.

There is a provision for a National Coastal and Inland Shipping Strategic Plan.

International

Bolivia: Bolivia officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. The country is bordered to the north and east by Brazil, to the southeast by Paraguay, to the south by Argentina, to the southwest and west by Chile, and to the northwest by Peru. The constitutional capital is Sucre, while the seat of government and executive capital is La Paz. The currency used here is Bolibiano.

Recently, Luis Arce has been declared as the President-elect of Bolivia, after winning a landslide victory in the 2020 Bolivian general election. He captured 55.1% of the total votes.

Arce will take the charge of the office on 8 November 2020. He will be succeeding Jeanine Anez, who is serving as the interim President of Bolivia.

About: The 57-year-old, Luis is a member of the political party Movement Toward Socialism. Earlier, Arce served as Minister of Economy and Public Finance from 2006 to 2017 and in 2019 under the President Evo Morales.

Guinea: Guinea officially the Republic of Guinea is a country in West Africa, bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It's known for the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, in the southeast. The sovereign state of Guinea is a republic with a president who is directly elected by the people; this position is both head of state and head of government. The unicameral Guinean National Assembly is the legislative body of the country, and its members are also directly elected by the people. The capital of Guinea is Conarky and he currency used here is Guinean franc. The current Guinea Prime Minister is Ibrahima Kassory Fofana and president is Alpha Conde.

Recently, Alpha Condé, the incumbent president of Guinea and leader of Rally of the Guinean People (Rassemblement du Peuple Guinéen – RPG) party has won the 3rd the term as the President of Guinea. He won the 2020 presidential elections against Cellou Dalein Diallo with 59.49 % votes. 

Seychelles: Seychelles, officially the Republic of Seychelles, is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea. It's Capital is Victoria which is situated on the island of Mahe.The currency used here is Seychellois Rupee. The current President is Wavel Ramkalawan.

Recently, Indian-origin Wavel Ramkalawan has been elected as the President of Seychelles. For the first time, Seychelles has elected an opposition candidate as president since 1977. He has defeated the incumbent Danny Faure. Ramakalwan is a priest of Indian Origin whose grandfather came from Gopalganj, Bihar.

National

BRICS: It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs. All are also the members of G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China. BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

Recently, the sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum was organized virtually on 27 October 2020 under the chairmanship of Vyachaslav Volodin, the Chairman of Russian Parliament. Speakers and members of five BRICS Parliaments namely Brazil, Russian, India, China and South Africa attended the Forum.

The Indian Parliamentary Delegation led by Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla also consisted of Member of Lok Sabha, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi , Smt. Snehlata Shrivastava, Secretary General, Lok Sabhawho Participated in 6th BRICS Parliamentary Forum virtually.

The theme of the Forum was ‘BRICS partnership in the interest of global stability, general safety and innovative growth: Parliamentary dimension’.

 The forum provided an effective platform to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue and Parliamentary Diplomacy among the Parliaments of BRICS countries with a view to strengthening the role of Parliaments on a range of contemporary global issues.

National Unity Day: The National Unity Day or the Rashtriya Ekta Divas is observed across India annually on the 31st of October. The day is being observed since 2014, to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who played an instrumental role in India’s struggle for independence and later during his term as Home Minister of India, integrated over 550 independent princely states into India. This year marks the 145th anniversary of the great leader.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead the nation in paying tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 145th birth anniversary today from the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Gujarat.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: He was born on 31st October 1875 in Nadiad, Gujarat. He was an Indian barrister and an influential political leader in the Indian independence movement. His full name was Vallabh Bhai, Jhaverbhai Patel. Vallabhbhai Patel is also known as the Sardar Patel and Iron Man. Sardar Patel is most remembered for integrated India.

He was the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of independent India who played an important role in the integration of many Indian princely states to make an Indian federation.

Women of Bardoli bestowed the title ‘Sardar’ on Vallabhbhai Patel, which means ‘a Chief or a Leader’.

He is recognized as the real unifier of India for his colossal contribution to integrate and make India a united (Ek Bharat) and an independent nation. He requested the people of India to live together by uniting in order to create Shresth Bharat (Foremost India).

He is also remembered as the ‘Patron saint of India’s civil servants’ as he established the modern all-India services system.

In 2014, the Government of India had decided to celebrate the birthday of Sardar Patel as the "National Unity Day" to honor Sardar Patel's contribution to integrated India.

The Statue of Unity which is the tallest statue in the world at Kevadiya in Narmada district of Gujarat was built in his honour.

MoTA: It refers to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. MoTA is a branch of Government of India (GoI). It was set up on October 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (India) to have a more focused approach on the integrated socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the most underprivileged of the Indian Society. MoTA is the Nodal Ministry for overall policy planning and coordination of programmes for development of STs. The current Union Minister of MoTA is Arjun Munda and Minister of State of MoTA is Renuka Singh Saruta.

Recently, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda launched two Centers of Excellence for Tribal Welfare. These centres were launched in collaboration between Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and Art of Living (AoL) through video conference.

The first CoE has been launched in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. CoE aims to train 10000 tribal farmers there on sustainable natural farming based on Go-Adharith farming techniques.

The farmers will be benefitted by being helped in getting the Organic certification and marketing opportunities to make each of them Atmanirbhar Tribal Farmers.

The second initiative ‘Strengthening PRIs (Panchayati Raj Institutions)’ will be launched in 5 districts covering 30 Gram Panchayats and 150 villages of Jharkhand.

The initiative is aimed at creating youth volunteers among the tribal youths by giving them personality development training, hence creating the tribal leaders who will work for their community.

Art of Living: It is a foundation which is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization in Bengaluru. It was founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

People In News

Om Puri: Om Prakash Puri, OBE (18 October 1950 – 6 January 2017) was an Indian actor who appeared in mainstream commercial Hindi films, as well as independent and art films. He is best known for his author-backed roles in films like Aakrosh (1980), Arohan (1982), Ardh Satya and television films like Sadgati (1981) and Tamas (1987) and also light-hearted roles in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) and Chachi 420 (1997). He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 1990. In 2004, he was made an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire. On 6 January 2017, Puri died at the age of 66, after having a heart attack

Recently, the late Indian actor, Om Puri was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the third edition of the India International Film Festival of Boston (IIFFB 2020). The actor’s contribution to cinema was recognized and the award was received by his wife.

Other big winners of the night were Malayalam film Kaanthi, which won the Best Feature Film Award. The Best Actor Male was won by Victor Bannerjee for playing a priest in Josef: Born In Grace. Best Actor Female went to Shylaja Ambu for Kaanthi.

Another highlight of the festival was a conversation with chef Vikas Khanna, recipient of the “Pride of India Award”.

The film festival was held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, from October 16 to 18. It is based in Boston USA.

Dr Satish Mishra: He is the Principal Scientist, Division of Molecular Parasitology and Immunology, (CSIR-CDRI)-Lucknow. He has been selected by the National Academy of Medical Sciences (India) for “Dr.Tulsi Das Chugh Award 2020”. He is awarded for his research work on Malaria parasite’s life cycle which is a complex process involving two hosts and three invasive stages.

His outstanding work focused on “Secreted Protein with Altered Thrombospondin Repeat (SPATR) which is Essential for Asexual Blood Stages but not Required for Hepatocyte Invasion by the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium Berghei”

This study focuses on the dispensability of SPATR in P. berghei sporozoites and its importance for the establishment of blood-stage infection, further investigation is needed to unravel its precise role during this process.

Tulsi Das Chugh Award carries a Scroll, a Commemorative Medal and Cash Incentive.

He was elected, a member in 2018, The National Academy of Sciences, India and a member in 2019, National Academy of Medical Sciences, India.

Dr Satish Mishra has also been awarded with Shakuntala Amir Chand Prize in 2018 by Indian Council of Medical Research, Government of India (GoI) and Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship in 2013 by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

NAMS: It is an acronym for National Academy of Medical Sciences (India). NAMS is a unique institution which fosters and utilizes academic excellence as its resource to meet medical and social goals. It was registered as the 'Indian Academy of Medical Sciences' on 21st April, 1961 under Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.

The Academy was re-named National Academy of Medical Sciences (India) on 16th November, 1976 on the recommendations of a Working Group set up by the Govt. of India.

Spelity Lyngdoh Langrin: The Meghalayan icon who turned down a multi-crore offer from the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), a Public Sector enterprise that wanted to mine her land passed away at the age of 95 at her home in Domiasiat area of South West Khasi Hills district.

Langrin had famously said that “Money cannot buy me freedom,” while rejecting the offer.

Over the years, Langrin’s name has become synonymous to the anti-uranium mining movement — her face often plastered over banners during anti-uranium protests in the state.

Note: India’s largest and richest uranium deposits are located in Domiasiat and Wahkyn areas of Meghalaya. The Domiasiat uranium deposit, also known as “Kyelleng-Pyndengsohiong-Mawtahbah” region, was discovered in 1984 and has approximately 9.22 million tonnes of high-grade uranium ore deposits.

Places In News

Kerala: It is a state on the southwestern Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions of the erstwhile states of Travancore-Cochin and Madras. It is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Lakshadweep Sea to the west. Its capital is Thiruvananthapuram. The current Governor and Chief Minister of Kerala are Arif Mohammad Khan and Pinarayi Vijayan respectively.

Recently, Kerala became the first state in the country to fix the floor price for vegetables.

The floor price will be 20% above the production cost of the vegetable. Even if the market price goes below the floor price, the product will be procured at the floor price from the farmers.

This is the first time in the country that the floor price is being fixed for vegetables produced in the state.

The benefits of the scheme are as follows:

It is going to provide support as well as relief to the farmers.

The produce will be graded and the floor price will be fixed based on the quality.

Sixteen varieties of vegetables would be covered in the first phase and there is a provision to revise the floor price on a regular basis.

Farmers can register on the agriculture department’s registration portal after insuring the crop to get the benefit of the floor price.

The scheme also envisages setting up the entire supply chain process like cold storage facilities and refrigerated vehicles for transporting the produce.

Gujarat: It 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.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated three projects in his home State Gujarat - one each related to farmers’ welfare, healthcare, and tourism development — via video conference from New Delhi.

The three projects are:

1. Modi launched 'Kisan Suryodaya Yojana' an Agri scheme which is aimed at providing day-time electricity to the farmers in the state for irrigation and farming purposes.

2. He inaugurated India’s biggest Paediatric Heart Hospital at the U N Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre in Ahmedabad and a Mobile Application for telecardiology.

3. He launched a 2.3 km-long ropeway project on Mount Girnar near Junagadh city a major pilgrimage site here. It is the World’s longest temple ropeway project at Girnar in Junagadh. It seeks to attract more tourists and pilgrims to this historical place which will boost employment opportunities.

The 2,320 metres long ropeway has a capacity of carrying 1,000 passengers every hour.

On 30 October 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Sardar Patel Zoological Park, popularly known as Jungle Safari, in Kevadia, Narmada district a day before the 145th birth anniversary of country’s first home minister Vallabhbhai Patel. The park has been set up near the 182-metre Statue of Unity. 

Telangana: It is a state in India situated on the centre-south stretch of the Indian peninsula on the high Deccan Plateau. It was founded on 2 June 2014. Its Capital city is Hyderabad. The current Governor and Chief Minister of Telangana are Tamilisai Soundararajan and K. Chandrashekar Rao respectively.

Recently, a web portal ‘Dharani’ for land and property registrations has been launched by the Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao. From now on, the state government will undertake all the property transactions, including registrations and mutations, through a web portal.

Dharani web portal: It is a one-stop portal for all land and property-related transactions as well as documentation.The portal seeks to do away with any loopholes in the registration process as well as store all land and property-related information online. It will not only simplify the registration, succession but it will also simplify the partition of agriculture lands, to ensure that the entire process is completed within a few minutes and the e-pattadar passbook is provided to the landowners immediately.

Science and Technology

SOFIA: The full form of SOFIA is 'Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.' SOFIA is NASA's Airborne Telescope.

Recently, in a groundbreaking discovery, SOFIA has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places.

Two new studies published in Nature Astronomy suggest there could be much more water than previously thought, including ice stored in permanently shadowed “cold traps” at lunar polar regions.

Using data SOFIA Airborne Telescope, researchers scanned the lunar surface at a more precise wavelength than had been used before — 6 microns instead of 3. This allowed them to distinguish the spectral fingerprint of molecular water.

This airborne telescope detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.

Previous observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water (H2O) and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH). Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface. But a new study provides further chemical proof that the Moon holds molecular water, even in sunlit areas.

The results have been published in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.

SERB: It refers to the Science and Engineering Research Board. SERB is a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, launched the scheme to mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research in various S&T programs. SERB was established through an Act of Parliament, 2008.

Recently, Union Minister for Science & Technology launched a Scheme titled “SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)”. It is designed exclusively for women scientists, and was launched on an e-platform.

The scheme aims to mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research funding in various S&T programs in Indian academic institutions and R&D laboratories.

The scheme will be implemented under the Science and engineering research board (A Statutory Body constituted by an Act of Parliament: SERB Act 2008) under  Department of Science and Technology.

SERB – POWER Scheme will have two components which are

(i) SERB-POWER Fellowship

(ii) SERB- POWER Research Grants.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE SERB-POWER FELLOWSHIP:

TARGET: Women researchers in 35-55 years of age. Up-to 25 Fellowships per year and not more than 75 at any point in time.

COMPONENTS OF SUPPORT : Fellowship of Rs. 15,000/- per month in addition to regular income; Research grant of Rs. 10 lakh per annum; and Overhead of Rs. 90,000/- per annum.

DURATION : Three years, without the possibility of extension. Once in a career.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE SERB – POWER RESEARCH GRANTS:

POWER Grants will empower women researchers by funding them under following two categories:

LEVEL I: (Applicants from IITs, IISERs, IISc, NITs, Central Universities, and National Labs of Central Government Institutions): The scale of funding is up to 60 lakhs for three years.

LEVEL II: (Applicants from State Universities / Colleges and Private Academic Institutions): The scale of funding is up to 30 lakhs for three years.

POWER Grant will be regulated through terms of reference conforming to SERB-CRG(Science and Engineering Research Board-Core Research Grant) guidelines.

Sports

Portuguese Grand Prix: British driver Lewis Hamilton made Formula One history by winning the Portuguese Grand Prix for a 92nd career victory to move one ahead of German great Michael Schumacher.

The 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix, held at Algarve International Circuit, Portugal. This was the 12th round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship.

Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes- Finland) came second followed by Max Verstappen (Red Bull – Netherlands) at the third spot.

Denmark Open 2020 (Badminton): Former World Champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan clinched the Denmark Open 2020 title beating three-time world champion Carolina Marin in women’s singles.

In the men’s singles final, world number seven Anders Antonsen of Denmark defeated his compatriot Rasmus Gemke.

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

Women’s Single winner is Nozomi Okuhara (Japan)

Men’s Single winner is Anders Antonsen (Denmark)

Men’s Double winners are Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge (England)

Women’s Double winners are Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota (Japan)

Mixed Double winners are Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich (Germany)

Premier League (Football): Leicester City won at Arsenal for the first time in 47 years with substitute Jamie Vardy’s late close-range header enough to secure victory in the Premier League at The Emirates.

The win lifted Brendan Rogers’ side to fourth on 12 points, while the Gunners stay in 10th place on nine after six games.

Current Affairs September 20 to October 24

Economics

CSIR: It refers to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. CSIR was established on 26 September 1942. Dr Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar was the Founder Director (and later first Director-General) of CSIR. It is the largest research and development (R&D) organization in India. It is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology and it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The main objective of CSIR was to bring science and technology to the country and develop research capabilities which would support industry.

Recently, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) has been signed by Tata Steel and Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) to collaborate in the area of Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS).

The MoU has been signed considering the importance of Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) in India’s fight against Climate Change and Global Warming, meeting the growing energy demands and building a strong ecosystem to meet commitments under Paris Agreement.

As part of this strategic MoU, the teams from Tata Steel and CSIR will work towards accelerating development and deployment of CCUS technologies in the steel industry. These technologies would expedite transition to a decarbonised economy in other carbon intensive sectors like Cement, and Fertilizer and power etc.

ASIIM: The full form of ASIIM is Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission. ASIIM was recently e-launched by the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot.

The mission has been launched under the Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in order to promote innovation and enterprise among SC students studying in higher educational institutions.

The main aim of this fund is to provide concessional finance to the entities of the SC entrepreneurs.

Under this fund, 117 companies promoted by SC entrepreneurs have been sanctioned financial assistance to set up business ventures.

Under the name “Ambedkar Social Innovation Incubation Mission (ASIIM)” initiative, 1,000 SC youth would be identified in the next 4 years with start-up ideas through the Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) in various higher educational institutions.

VCF-SCs: The Venture Capital Fund for SCs (VCF-SCs) was launched by the Ministry of Social Justice in 2014-15 to develop entrepreneurship amongst the SC/Divyang youth and enable them to become ‘job-givers’. The fund provides concessional finance to the entities of the SC entrepreneurs. 

Ministry of Shipping: The Ministry of Shipping is a branch of the Government of India (GoI). It is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to shipping. It was founded in 2018. Maritime transport is a critical infrastructure for the social and economic development of a country. It represents the pace, structure and pattern of development of water transport in the country. The Ministry of Shipping encompasses the shipping and port sectors which include shipbuilding and repair, major ports, national waterways and inland water transport. The ministry has been entrusted with the responsibility to formulate policies and programmes on these subjects and their implementation. the current Minister responsible for the Ministry of Shipping is Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Minister of State (Independent Charge).

Recently, the Union Minister for Shipping launched diamond jubilee celebration of Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), on the occasion of its foundation day. The minister congratulated SCI for completing its 59 glorious years and entering into 60th year.

SCI: It refers to the Shipping Corporation of India. SCI is a Government of India (GoI) Public Sector Enterprise. It operates and manages vessels that services both national and international lines.

It was established on 2 October 1961 by the amalgamation of Eastern Shipping Corporation and Western Shipping Corporation. SCI was awarded the prestigious "Navratna" status by the Indian Government in 2008. GoI, on the 21st of November 2019, approved the privatization of SCI.

Defence

Environment

Wild Life Week: India celebrates every year between October 1st and 8th. The annual theme of the campaign is to promote the preservation of fauna – i.e. animal life. It is being celebrated since 1954. The main objective of celebrating the day is to save the lives of Indian animals by taking critical steps. Wild life Week was conceptualized in 1952.

Wildlife Week 2020 marks the 66th Wildlife Week which is celebrated under the theme RoaR (Roar and Revive) – Exploring Human-Animal Relationships.

Though the day is celebrated by several organizations all over India, the celebrations are mainly organized by National Board of Wildlife. The forest departments organize bird watching in wetlands. Conferences, Workshops, symposiums, education trainings and lectures are also organized.

The Indian Government has also established an Indian Board of Wild Life which works to improve awareness towards the preservation of wildlife.

As India is one of the seventeen mega diversities of the world, therefore, it is important for India to conserve and protect its biodiversity.

The acts that conserve biodiversity of India are as follows

1. Indian Forests Act, 1972

2. Fisheries Act, 1897

3. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

4. Environment Protection Act

5. Biological Diversity Act

6. Forest Conservation Act

Swachh Bharat Puraskar: The Swachh Bharat Puraskar were conferred to the best performing States/UTs, districts, blocks, GPs and others in various categories marking six years of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) launch by the Ministry of Jal Shakti. 

The awards were conferred on the occasion of The Swachh Bharat Diwas, 2020 which was celebrated on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

The awards were presented by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS).

Top Awards were conferred upon Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab& others.

Zombie Fires: A Zombie fire is a fire from a previous growing season. It can smolder (burn slowly with smoke and no flame) under the ground that is made of carbon rich peat. The fire reignites when the weather warms.

Zombie fires are burning in the Arctic region and are becoming frequent. It means that the fire regimes in the Arctic are changing rapidly. These regions were once-frozen Tundra. The fires are spreading to areas which were formerly fire-resistant.

The north of Arctic Circle (the Tundra) is drying up. Vegetation in the region such as grass, moss, dwarf shrubs are catching fire.

The wildfires in the permafrost region of Siberia in the Arctic are not uncommon. However, lately in 2019 and 2020, the burning occurred well above Arctic Circle.

The Wet landscapes such as grass, sedges, moss and surface peats are also starting to catch fire and these regions are usually not known to support large wildfires. The temperatures in Siberia have also increased this year. The region also recorded severe heat waves. These fires have the potential of turning carbon sink into carbon source which in turn increases Global Warming.

Permafrost: Permafrost locks are enormous amount of carbon from ancient biomass. Thus melting of this permafrost will emit more and more carbon into the atmosphere.

Russia is warming 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world due these Arctic territories because Russia is built on permafrost. This is a huge hazard for the country’s infrastructure.

The oil leak in the Ambarnaya River in June 2020 was due to melting of permafrost. This incident forced the Russian Government to impose emergency in the region. On the other hand, this is opening up transportation routes and energy resources to Russia.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak: A rare Rose-breasted Grosbeak, which is a bird with both female and male plumage colours, have recently been found by biologists in the United States’ Pennsylvania. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak gynandromorph was caught by biologists from Powdermill Nature Reserve of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s environmental research centre in Rector

This bird derives its name from the male of the species who have a ruby-red triangular marking on a white chest and dark black wings with pink wing pits. The females are much less showy, with no patches on its beige body, brown wings and yellow wing pits. They are sexually dimorphic, meaning they have both males and females have different colour plumage.

Their breeding habitat consists of cool-temperate open deciduous woods throughout much of eastern North America, with migration to tropical America in winter.

Gynandromorph: A gynandromorph is an organism that has both male and female characteristics - and, a male-female chimaera. It is often seen in insects, though gynandromorphic birds, snakes, lobsters and other animals have been observed, too.

Bio-Fortified Varities: Seventeen recently bio-fortified varieties of eight crops were dedicated to the Nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations. Sri Modi also issued a Commemorative Coin of Rs. 75 at the event.

With these varieties, along with other food ingredients, the normal thali will transform into nutritious thali. These varieties have been developed by utilizing the local landraces and farmer’s varieties.

The high zinc rice has been developed and collected from the Garo Hills Region of Assam and Dang District of Gujarat.

NARI: It refers to the Nutri-Sensitive Agricultural Resources and Innovations (NARI) programme. NARI programme was started by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) with an objective to promote family farming linking agriculture to nutrition, nutri-smart villages for enhancing nutritional security.

Under this programme, location specific nutrition garden models are being developed and promoted by KVKs to ensure access to locally available, healthy and diversified diet with adequate macro and micronutrients.

KAPILA Campaign: The full form of KAPILA is Kalam Program for Intellectual Property Literacy and Awareness Campaign. It was launched virtually by the Union Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'  on the 89th birth anniversary of former President and Scientist Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

Under this KAPILA campaign, students pursuing education in higher educational institutions (HEIs) will get information about the correct system of application process for patenting their invention.

The Institution Innovation Council (IIC 2.0) annual report was also presented on the occasion and the launch of IIC 3.0 was announced. Overall filing of applications for various Intellectual property Rights (IPRs) in 2018-19 has shown an increase of 15% over previous year.

It has also been decided to celebrate ‘Intellectual Property (IP) Literacy Week' from October 15th to 23rd October every year. During the week not only the online awareness will be created about the system but also about the importance of the process of applying for a patent.

The IIC 3.0 website was also launched during the occasion.

IIC: It refers to the Institution Innovation Council. IIC was established by the Ministry of Education in 2018.

The main objective of IIC is to create a vibrant local innovation ecosystem, Start-up supporting Mechanism in HEIs, prepare institute for Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements Framework etc.

 IICs have been established in about 1700 higher educational institutions.  IIC will be established in 5000 higher educational institutions under IIC 3.0.

 

Indian polity

DGQI: It refers to Data Governance Quality Index. DGQI is a survey conducted by the Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), NITI Aayog.

The Department of Fertilizers under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has been recently ranked 2nd amongst the sixteen Economic Ministries / Departments and 3rd out of the sixty five Ministries / Departments with a score 4.11 on a scale of 5 on DGQI.

A Survey had earlier been conducted by Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), Niti Ayog to assess different Ministries /Departments' performance on the implementation of Central Sector Schemes (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).

In this survey, an online questionnaire was prepared under six major themes of DGQI. They are:

1. Data Generation;

2. Data Quality;

3. Use of Technology;

4. Data Analysis,

5. Use and Dissemination;

6.  Data security and HR capacity and case studies

This was done to avoid straight-forward irrelevant comparisons.

Weightages were assigned to the themes and sub-weightages to each question within every theme to arrive at final DGQI scores ranging from 0 to 5 for every scheme.

Party Symbols: Party Symbols are those symbols which help the several unrecognised parties and independent candidates differentiate themselves from one another and help voters identify the party of their choice.

During the first national polls held in India in 1951-50, about 85% of the electorate were illiterate so visual symbols were allotted to parties and candidates to help them identify the party of their choice. Since then symbols became a crucial part of the electoral process.

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either “reserved” or “free”.

Reserved Symbols: Eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have “reserved” symbols.

Free Symbols: The Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognized regional parties that pop up before elections.

As per the guidelines, to get a symbol allotted:

 A party/candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers.

Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party/candidate on a first-come-first-serve basis.

When a recognized political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.

News: During Bihar Assembly Election 2020, Voters can expect to see a myriad of symbols like chapatti roller, dolli, bangles, and capsicum on the ballots as they go out to vote on October 28, November 3 and November 7.

The Bharatiya Aam Awam Party, a registered unrecognized political party contesting in all the 243 seats, has been allotted “capsicum” as its symbol.

Aam Adhikar Morcha and Rashtriya Jan Vikas Party will fight on “chapati roller” and “baby walker” symbols, respectively.

The symbol of “pestle and mortar” has been allotted to another unrecognised Hindu Samaj Party.

International

25th Amendment of US Constitution: The 25th Amendment of US Constitution is an amendment which was proposed in 1965 and was adopted in 1967. The amendment was submitted to the states in 1965 and the requisite number of 38 individual states ratified the amendment in 1967.

The amendment clarifies that the vice president succeeds when the president dies, removed from office or resigns.

Key Features of the amendment are:

Section 1: The Vice President becomes the President instead of assuming his powers and duties.

Section 2: Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of Vice President, the President shall appoint a new Vice President.

Section 3: Whenever the President writes to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate about his inability to discharge his powers and duties, his powers and duties will be discharged by the Vice President.

Section 4: The section allows the vice president to declare that the president is unable to discharge his powers and duties along with the majority of principal officers of the executive departments. The principal officers are the fifteen secretaries.

Among these sections, only section 4 has not been invoked so far in the history of US.

Recently, the 74-year-old President of US Mr. Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19. If his health deteriorates, the vice president will take over his role. The provisions to the scenario were provided by the 25th Constitutional Amendment of the US.

History:

Before the amendment there was no clarity over the scenario such as vacancy of office of vice president and also over inability of president to discharge his duties and power.

In 1973, President invoked the amendment to appoint vice president. Gerald Ford was appointed as the Vice President as Spiro Agnew resigned.

In 1974, the amendment was invoked again when Nixon resigned in 1974 and Gerald Ford succeeded as president.

In 1985, Section 3 was invoked when George W Bush had to undergo a colonoscopy. It was again invoked in 2002 and 2007 by George W Bush when he had to undergo colonoscopy again (both the times).

UNHRC: It refers to the United Nations Human Rights Council. UNHRC is the Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system. It is located at the UN Office at Geneva. It was founded in 2006. It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) that had been strongly criticized for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members. The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Its main task is to investigate allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states. It also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of expression, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

The Council comprises of 47 Member States, which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Council's Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. The members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

Recently, China along with Pakistan, Cuba and Russia have been elected on the UNHRC despite their abysmal human rights records. In a secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly, Pakistan secured 169 votes, Uzbekistan received 164, Nepal 150, and China 139. Saudi Arabia lost the race with just 90 votes.

United States Secretary of State slammed the UN body tasked with defending human rights for this election.

Since the HRC’s establishment in 2006, this is the fifth time that Pakistan has been elected to the United Nations’ human rights agency.

India has been elected to the UNHRC for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019. Previously, India had been elected to the UNHRC for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 terms.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: The day is observed every year on 17 October globally. The day aims to raise awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution around the world, particularly in developing countries.

Through resolution 47/196, adopted on 22 December 1992, the UN General Assembly declared 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and invited all States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting, as appropriate in the national context, concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution.

This year marks the 27th anniversary International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year also marks the 32nd anniversary of the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski — which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty — and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The theme for the year 2020 is “Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all”. The theme for the Day this year addresses the challenge of achieving social and environmental justice for all.

New Zealand: New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island and around 600 smaller islands. The Capital of New Zealand is Wellington. The currency used here is New Zealand Dollar (NZD). The country is famous for its national rugby team, its indigenous Maori culture and its picturesque landscape. The current Prime Minister of New Zealand is Jacinda Arden.

Recently, The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, won a landslide victory in the country’s general election, to be elected as the PM again for the second consecutive three-year term. The 40-year-old is serving as the 40th Prime Minister of the country since 26 October 2017. Her centre-left Labour Party won 49.2% of the total 83.7% votes.

National

NITI Aayog: It refers to the National Institution For Transforming India Aayog. NITI Aayog is the premier policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India (GoI). It was established on 1 January 2015 with an objective to foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.

The Governing Council of NITI, with The Prime Minister as its Chairman, comprises Chief Ministers of all States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories (UTs). The current CEO of NITI Aayog is Amitabh Kant.

Recently, India and Netherlands signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) to support the decarbonization and energy transition agenda for accommodating cleaner and more energy. The SoI was signed by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Ambassador of the Netherlands to India Marten van den Berg.  

NITI Aayog and the Dutch Embassy, through this collaboration, seek a strategic partnership to create a platform that enables a comprehensive collaboration among stakeholders and influencers, including policymakers, industry bodies, OEMs, private enterprises, and sector experts.

The focus of the partnership is on co-creating innovative technological solutions by leveraging the expertise of the two entities which is to be achieved through an exchange of knowledge and collaborative activities.

Note: Both India and Netherland share a long history of trade and investment. Netherland is India’s sixth-largest European Union trading partner- as much as 20% of India’s exports to the European continent goes through the Netherlands. It is not only one of the top 5 investors in the country but is also the third-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) for India. Netherlan is India's gateway to Europe.

HCNG: It refers to the hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (CNG). Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan recently inaugurated Indian Oil's compact reformer plant and launched the much-awaited trial run of Delhi's buses on Hydrogen-blended CNG (HCNG). It was launched at the Rajghat Bus Depot-I of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

Speaking on the occasion Mr Pradhan said that its main objective of HNCG is to provide clean and reliable energy supplies to 130-crore plus Indians which is the top priority of the Government.

In Delhi, hydrogen spiked CNG will be produced using compact reforming process patented by Indian Oil Corporation instead of physically blending hydrogen with CNG.

The main benefits HCNG are:

1. H-CNG blends can be produced directly from CNG, bypassing the energy-intensive electrolysis process and high-pressure blending costs.

2. Refueling of H-CNG blends in vehicles can be performed with minimum modifications in the infrastructure that is presently under use for dispensing CNG.

People In News

2020 Nobel Prize: The recepients of the 2020 Nobel Prize this year are as follows:-

Economics:

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Economics was jointly won by two economists Paul R Milgrom and Robert B Wilson who are based at Stanford University in California. They were chosen for this prestigious award for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.

Literature:

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to American poet Louise Glück who is a professor at Yale University. She was honoured “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”  She is seen as one of the most prominent poet and essayist in American contemporary literature.

Medicine:

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Medicine has been awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice. They were chosen for this prestigious award for their discovery of Hepatitis C virus.

Physics:

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez. Roger Penrose was awarded for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity” and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy”.

Chemistry:

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of a method for genome editing.

Peace:

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to World Food Programme (WFP) for their efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to improving conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and also for its efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

Nobel Prize: Nobel Prize is given at an international level which is administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. It is awarded for outstanding contributions in several categories including chemistry, literature, peace, physics, physiology or medicine and economic sciences. Nobel Prize award was first conferred in 1901. On 27 November, 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will in Paris and specified that his bulk of the fortune should be divided into five parts and to be used for prizes namely physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Alfred Nobel was a chemist, engineer, inventor and entrepreneur.

Nobel Prize Laureate: A person or organization who is awarded the Nobel Prize is known as Nobel Laureate. The word "laureate" in refers as a laurel wreath. In ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour.

Dr Michael Irani: He is a leading physician in Rheumatology who works as a Consultant Rheumatologist at Ashford Hospital NHS Trust. He has been appointed as the Interim President of the IWF Budapest, at the meeting of the International Weightlifting Federation Executive Board, in accordance with the constitution of IWF. He was appointed after the resignation of IWF President TamásAján.

Irani was born in Mumbai, India. He was the former Chairman of the anti-doping Commission of IWF. He was also a member of the IWF Medical Committee since 1992. He served as the President of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) Medical Committee from 1995 to 1999.

IWF: It is the abbreviation for International Weightlifting Federation. IWF is the international governing body for the sport of Olympic weightlifting. The IWF was founded in 1905. It is headquartered in Budapest, Hungary.

Dinesh Kumar Khara: Dinesh Kumar Khara who is currently Managing Director in-charge of Global Banking & Subsidiaries has been recently appointed as the Chairman of State Bank of India for a period of three years by the Government of India (GoI). His appointment will be effective from 7 October 2020.

His name was recommended by Banks Board Bureau (BBB) for the post of Chairman of SBI on August 28, ruling out an extension to Rajnish Kumar, whose term is ending on October 6.

Khara holds a Masters in Business Administration from FMS New Delhi and is a post-graduate in Commerce. He joined SBI as a probationary officer in 1984. He has experience across all verticals of banking such as Retail Credit, SME and Corporate Credit and international banking operations. He is known as a general banking specialist within SBI circles. He is also a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers (CAIIB). Prior to being appointed as SBI MD, Khara was the MD and CEO of SBI Funds Management Pvt. Ltd.

Places In News

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.

Recently, Gujarat Government signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Denmark in the water sector. The MoU was signed by the state government arm Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board has signed the MoU with ‘Danish Water Forum’ through an online interactive platform.

 

As per the agreement, the MoU will help in technology exchange, training, knowledge exchange, capacity building, and cooperation in water supply, wastewater treatment- reuse and water management between the two organizations.

The MoU has been signed for a five-year period in order to set up the Indo-Danish Water Technology Alliance in Gujarat and contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal -6.

DWF: It refers to Danish Water Forum. DWF was established in 2002 by a broad range of stakeholders related to the Danish water sector with the aim to share knowledge amongst all actors in the Danish water sector and also for promoting and expanding the role of the Danish water sector at the international scene with an aim to promote Danish water expertise globally. DWF is headquartered in Hørsholm, Denmark.The current Chairman is Hans-Martin Friis Moller

Uttarakhand: It is a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas. Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on 9 November 2000. It was carved from the Himalayan districts of Uttar Pradesh. Its winter Capital is Dehradun and summer capital is Gairsain. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttarakhand are Trivendra Singh Rawat and Baby Rani Maurya respectively.

Recently, Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat launched the “Mukhya Mantri Saur Swarojgar Yojana.” The initiative launched at the Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Auditorium in Dehradun, Uttarakhand is aimed at promoting self-employment of the youth and promoting the production of Green Energy.

The targeted beneficiaries include youths and migrant workers, who returned home after leaving jobs in various parts of the country due to pandemic.

Under the scheme, about 10, 000 Youths and Migrants will get self-employment in the Green Energy Sector. The targeted beneficiaries will be allocated Solar Plants of 25 Kilowatts (KW) each.

1.5-2 nalis (Land Measurement Unit) of Land and INR 10 Lakh at the rate of INR 40,000 per unit are required to set up each plant. The Cooperative banks will grant loans at an interest rate of 8% per year for 15 years to set up these solar plants on private land or on land taken on lease.

Each plant seeks to generate 38,000 units of electricity per annum which will be bought by Uttarakhand Power Corporation Ltd for 25 years.

Science and Technology

CSIR Technologies for Rural Development: The Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan recently launched CSIR Technologies for rural development on the occasion of CSIR-NISTADS 40th Foundation Day. It was launched under a joint initiative of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD) Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA), and Vijnana Bharti (VIBHA).

The event was organized through an online platform on the occasion of the 40th Foundation Day of CSIR-NISTADS (National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies) in Delhi on September 30.

The main objective of the above organizations is to work jointly on a framework for scientific intervention to create sustainable livelihood opportunities in the rural clusters under synergy of S&T Organizations (CSIR/DST/DBT/DRDO etc), VIBHA and UBA.

The Minister also released CSIR-National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS) e-Compendium and e-Coffee Table Book, on the occasion.

The CSIR-NISTADS is acting as a nodal CSIR Lab to establish linkages between CSIR laboratories, UBA, VIBHA, and stakeholders.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan: It is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Education. It was conceptualised and launched in IIT-Delhi with an aim to introduce transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India.

The Abhiyaan now constitutes 45 Regional Coordinating Institutions (RCIs) and 2,614 Participating Institutions.

A total of 13,760 villages have been adopted under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan. 

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2020: The Union science and technology minister Dr Harsh Vardhan recently announced the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2020 on the occasion of the 79th Foundation Day celebration of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Fourteen scientists have been chosen as this year’s most coveted awards for multidisciplinary research in the country.

The list of 14 scientists awardees are as follows:

1. Biological Sciences:

Dr Subhadeep Chatterjee,

Dr Vatsala Thirumalai

 

 

2. Chemical Sciences

Dr Jyotirmayee Dash,

Dr Subi Jacob George

 

3. Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences

Dr Abhijit Mukherjee

Dr Suryendu Dutta

 

4. Engineering Sciences

Dr Amol Arvindrao Kulkarni

Dr Kinshuk Dasgupta

 

5. Mathematics Sciences

Dr UK Anandavardhanan,

Dr Rajat Subhra Hazra

 

6. Medicine Sciences

Dr Bushra Ateeq,

Dr Ritesh Agarwal

 

7. Physics Sciences

Dr Rajesh Ganapathy

Dr Surajit Dhara

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize: The award is named after the founder Director of CSIR India, the late Dr (Sir) Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar. It is given for outstanding Indian work in the field of science and technology. It is awarded annually for notable and outstanding research to Indian scientists below the age of 45 for outstanding research, in the following 7 disciplines. They are Biological Sciences; Chemical Sciences;Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences; Engineering Sciences; Mathematical Sciences; Medical Sciences and Physical Sciences.

The award includes an Rs 5 lakh award and a citation that was given to two researchers from each of the seven fields

VAIBHAV 2020 Summit: The Vaishvik Bhartiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) Summit was recently inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. It is a global virtual summit of overseas and resident Indian Researchers and Academicians.

More than 3000 Academicians & Scientists of Indian Origin and over 10,000 Indian Scientists are expected to participate in the Summit.

It will be organized by 200 Indian academic institutes and S&T departments, led by Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India (GoI).

The deliberations will be held from 3rd October to 25th October 2020 and will conclude on the occasion of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Jayanti i.e. 31st October 2020. The main objective of the summit is to bring out a comprehensive roadmap leveraging the expertise and knowledge of global Indian researchers for addressing emerging challenges for universal development.

WSW: It refers to the World Space Week. WSW is observed from the 4th of October to 10th of October every year. It is observed to celebrate science and technology, and their contribution towards the betterment of the human condition.

The theme for 2020 WSW is “Satellites Improve Life.”

The United Nations General Assembly WSW on December 6, 1999. The dates commemorate the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, on 4 October 1957 and the entry into force of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies on 10 October 1967.

Sports

SAI: It refers to the Sports Authority of India. SAI is the apex national sports body of India. It was founded by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of Government of India (GoI) on 25 January 1984 as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. It was set up with a twin objective of broad-basing of sports and to achieve excellence at the national and international level. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The current Director General of SAI is Sandip Pradhan.

Recently, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports launched a new logo for SAI at Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand Stadium. The new logo signifies SAI's journey of metamorphosis from identifying and nurturing grassroots level sporting talent to creating sporting excellence in the country.

Alyssa Healy: She is an Australian woman cricketer and wicketkeeper who has broken the record of “Most Dismissal by Wicket Keeper” by MS Dhoni’s who made 91 dismissals in 98 T20 Internationals (T20Is) for India.

Healy has played 114 T20Is for Australia and she broke the record with 92 dismissals in the shortest format of the game during the match against New Zealand in the 2nd T20I of the three-match series at Allan Border Field at Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Arts

International Day of Non-Violence: The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2nd October which is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. He was a pioneer of the philosophy and non-violence strategy.

The principle of non-violence aims to achieve social or political change and rejects the use of physical violence. This day is referred to as Gandhi Jayanti in India.

According to General Assembly resolution of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to "disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness"

There are three main categories of non-violence action. They are protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils; non-cooperation; and non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.

The year 2020 marks 151st birth anniversary of the global peace icon who was born on 2 October 1869, in Porbandar in Gujarat.

Mahatma Gandhi: The full name of Mahatma Gandi was Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi. He was born on 2nd October 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat. He studied law in the United Kingdom (UK) and practiced law in South Africa. He was a political & spiritual leader in India. He played a major role in the Indian independence movement. He was a pioneer of non-violence and truth. Mahatma Gandhi started the Satyagraha (non-violence) movement for the Indian freedom struggle.

Mahatma Gandhi is dearly called as the 'Father of the Nation' or Bapuji by the Indians as he was the driving force behind the Indian independence from British rule and establishment of India as a nation. He helped lead India to independence. He has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world.

Bapuji, throughout his life, remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and especially in the face of insurmountable challenges.

Mahatma Gandhi led major movements in the freedom struggle. Few of them are listed below:

Champaran Satyagraha

Kheda Satyagraha

Khilafat Movement

Civil-Disobedience Movement

Non-Cooperation Movement

Quit India Movement

Banda Sing Bahadur Jayanti: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently paid tributes to the brave Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji on his 350th Jayanti.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji ( 1670 - 1716) was born in a Minhas Rajput family. He was a Sikh warrior and a commander of Khalsa army. His birth name was Lachman Dev. He left home at the age of 15 to become a Hindu ascetic, and was given the name ‘’Madho Das’’.

He established a monastery at Nānded, on the bank of the river Godāvarī. In 1708 he became a disciple of, Guru Gobind Singh and was named Banda Bahadur. He came to Khanda in Sonipat and assembled a fighting force and led the struggle against the Mughal Empire.

In 1709, in his first major action he sacked the Mughal provincial capital, Samana. After establishing his authority and Khalsa rule in Punjab, he abolished the zamindari system, and granted property rights to the tillers of the land.

Banda Singh was captured by the Mughals and tortured to death in 1715-1716.

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