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CONTENTS PAGE NO
I. AGRICULTURE………………………………………………………………………6 to 11

1. ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT


2. WORLD FOOD DAY
3. FOOD SAFETY MITRA SCHEME
4. FEED OUR FUTURE
5. NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE MARKETING FEDERATION OF
INDIA (NAFED)
6. MILLION FARMER’S SCHOOL (MFS) PROGRAMME
II. ART AND CULTURE……………………………………………………………….12 to 22
7. GALO COMMUNITY IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
8. 39th WORLD CONGRESS OF POETS
9. NOBEL PRIZE 2019
10. BAUL FESTIVAL
11. UNESCO ASIA-PACIFIC AWARDS FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE CONSERVATION
12. HOW A WAQF IS CREATED, AND THE LAWS THAT GOVERN SUCH
PROPERTIES?
13. GOAL PROGRAM
14. HUNAR HAAT
15. KITTUR UTSAV
16. ASI CLEARS FURTHER EXCAVATIONS AT FOUR SITES IN TAMIL NADU
17. WHY HAVE THE NAGA PEACE TALKS STUMBLED?
III. DEFENCE………………………………………………………………………………22 to 31
18. BRAHMOS
19. EXERCISE KAZIND – 2019
20. GOA MARITIME CONCLAVE – 2019
21. HIM VIJAY EXERCISE
22. INDIA TO SET UP COASTAL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM IN BANGLADESH
23. PROJECT BEEHIVE
24. SHINYUU MAITRI
25. EX EASTERN BRIDGE – V
26. INDIA – US DEFENCE TECHNOLOGIES AND TRADE INITIATIVE (DTTI)
27. DEFENCE ACQUISITION COUNCIL
28. SINDHU SUDARSHAN
IV. ECONOMY…………………………………………………………………………….31 to 59

29. BANKING SYSTEM SAFE, STABLE : RBI

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30. KHADI AND VILLAGE INDUSTRIES COMMISSION


31. WHY RBI MAY CUT INTEREST RATES TOMORROW AND WHY IT MAY NOT BE
ENOUGH?
32. VANDE BHARAT EXPRESS
33. GOVERNMENT CONSTITUTES WORKING GROUP TO PREPARE CONTOURS OF
NEW INDUSTRIAL POLICY
34. CABINET APPROVES NEW STRATEGIC DISINVESTMENT PROCESS
35. FINANCE MINISTER TO INAUGURATE NATIONAL TAX E-ASSESSMENT CENTRE
36. GREEN CHANNEL
37. GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS INDEX
38. EFFECTS OF GLOBAL SLOWDOWN MORE PRONOUNCED IN INDIA : IMF CHIEF
39. GST COUNCIL FORMS 12-MEMBER PANEL
40. SPECIAL AND DIFFERENTIAL (S&D) TREATMENT
41. BULLET TRAIN PROJECT
42. WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
43. WORLD GIVING INDEX
44. ASIA – PACIFIC TRADE AND INVESTMENT REPORT
45. INDIA INNOVATION INDEX
46. INDIA TO SPEND USD 1.4 TRILLION ON INFRASTRUCTURE IN NEXT FIVE
YEARS
47. GOVERNMENT SHOULD REVERSE CUTS ON CORPORATE TAXES
48. GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES BHIM 2.0 WITH NEW FUNCTIONALITIES,
ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE SUPPORT
49. MeitY START-UP SUMMIT
50. GOVERNMENT e-MARKETPLACE
51. A STUDY ON “EMERGING EMPLOYMENT PATTERNS OF 21ST CENTURY IN
INDIA”
52. EASE OF DOING BUSINESS – IMPLEMENTATION OF RFID BASED PORT
ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM
53. EASE OF DOING BUSINESS LEAP CREDITABLE
54. SMART CITIES MISSION AND AMRUT
55. UDAN SCHEME
V. EDUCATION………………………………………………………………………….60 to 67
55. SCHOOL EDUCATION QUALITY INDEX (SEQI)
56. PRADHAN MANTRI INNOVATIVE LEARNING PROGRAMME (PMILP) –
‘DHRUV’
57. MAHATMA GANDHI NATIONAL FELLOWSHIP (MGNF) PROGRAMME
58. PRIME MINISTER’S SPECIAL SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME FOR JAMMU AND
KASHMIR
59. EFFECT OF MOTHER’S EDUCATION ON CHILD’S NUTRITIONAL STATUS

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60. VIGYAN JYOTI


61. QS INDIAN UNIVERSITY RANKINGS

VI. ENVIRONMENT……………………………………………………………………..67 to 86
62. MONT BLANC
63. UNUSUAL MOVEMENT OF MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES CAUSING A FLUTTER
64. SWACHH BHARAT MISSION
65. C 40 SUMMIT
66. TIGER RESERVES IN MADHYA PRADESH
67. WILDLIFE WEEK INDIA
68. BHARAT STAGE VI EMISSION NORMS
69. GANGA AAMANTRAN ABHIYAN
70. GRADED RESPONSE ACTION PLAN (GRAP)
71. PANGIO BHUJIA
72. PLASTIC POLLUTION IN GREAT NICOBAR ISLAND
73. PETROLEUM AND EXPLOSIVE SAFETY ORGANISATION (PESO)
74. CENTRE CLARIFIES ON DEFINITION OF FOREST
75. NATIONAL TIGER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY (NTCA)
76. SNOW LEOPARD
77. SMALLEST OZONE HOLE IN DECADES
78. HOW GREEN ARE DEEPAVALI CRACKERS?
79. NELLOPTODES GRETAE
80. 36 MILLION INDIANS FACE FLOOD RISK : STUDY

VII. GEOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………………….86 to 96
81. ROLE OF VOLCANOES IN GLOBAL WARMING
82. D28 ICEBERG
83. NATIONAL MONSOON MISSION
84. INFORMATION FUSION CENTRE (IFC) FOR THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION (IOR)
85. HINDU KUSH MOUNTAINS
86. MOUNT PAEKTU
87. COLLECTIVE ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR BEGAN HALF-A-BILLION YEARS AGO
88. MARAWAH ISLAND
89. SIACHEN GLACIER
90. ULURU
VIII. HEALTH………………………………………………………………………………….96 to 121
91. MALNUTRITION IN INDIA
92. PNEUMOCONIOSIS
93. DEADLY JAPANESE FUNGI FOUND IN AUSTRALIA
94. TELANGANA’S IDEA OF SUPPLYING MEDICINES TO REMOTE AREAS BY
DRONES
95. COMPREHENSIVE NATIONAL NUTRITION SURVEY (CNNS)

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96.
eDANTSEVA
97.
NATIONAL NUTRITION SURVEY
98.
DENGUE
99.
CONFERENCE OF CENTRAL COUNCIL OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE
100.
GLOBAL FUND RAISES $13.92 BILLION TO FIGHT AIDS, TB, MALARIA
101.
NATIONAL COORDINATION CENTER
102.
SURAKSHIT MATRITVA AASHWASAN (SUMAN) SCHEME
103.
HIV-AIDS
104.
NATIONAL BLINDNESS AND VISUAL IMPAIRMENT SURVEY
105.
THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN REPORT
106.
ANTHRAX
107.
LIVER TRANSPLANT REGISTRY
108.
PERITONEAL DIALYSIS
109.
CAN ORGANOIDS, DERIVED FROM STEM CELLS, BE USED IN DISEASE
TREATMENTS?
110. NOVEL METHOD FOUND TO KILL DORMANT TB BACTERIA IN STEM CELLS
IX. IR……………………………………………………………………………………………126 to 142
111. INDIA-US RELATIONS
112. HOW SINGAPORE LAW PROPOSES TO CRACK DOWN ON ‘FALSE’ ONLINE
POSTS
113. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME (TAP)
114. RCEP : OPPORTUNITY, FEARS IN REGIONAL TRADE DEAL
115. NEPAL, CHINA INK ROAD CONNECTIVITY DEAL
116. INDIA JOINS WEF’s G20 GLOBAL CITIES ALLIANCE ON TECHNOLOGY
117. LOTUS-HR
118. TULAGI ISLAND
119. BRITAIN CLINCHES BREXIT DEAL WITH EU
120. INDIA PUTS OFF PM MODI’S VISIT TO TURKEY
121. SRI LANKA REMOVED FROM FATF’s GREY LIST : REPORT
122. BHASHAN CHAR ISLAND
123. NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT (NAM)
124. CAPE TOWN AGREEMENT
125. GLOBAL MOBILITY REPORT
126. INDIA, SAUDI ARABIA TO SIGN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP COUNCIL PACT
127. GLOBAL PENSION INDEX
X. POLITY…………………………………………………………………………………..142 to 158
128. SCHEDULED CASTE AND SCHEDULED TRIBE (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES)
ACT, 1989
129. VILLAGE SECRETARIAT PROGRAMME
130. WHY AMIT SHAH WANTS TO AMEND THE CITIZENSHIP ACT BEFORE
UNDERTAKING COUNTRYWIDE NRC?
131. BRU TRIBE REPARTIATION ISSUE

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132. PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES


133. TASK FORCE TO IMPROVE INDIA’S RIGHTS RECORD
134. DRAFT ARMS (AMENDMENT) BILL
135. RTI PORTAL
136. GOVERNMENT APPOINTS 3 NEW MEMBERS TO PMEAC
137. INDIAN PENAL CODE
138. PRISON STATISTICS OF INDIA
139. REPLY TO PLEA FOR ENTRY OF WOMEN IN MOSQUES : SC
140. TRAI SUGGESTS CAPTIVE USE OF SPECTRUM FOR RAILWAYS
141. ACTIVISTS CRY FOUL AS GOVERNMENT NOTIFIES RTI RULES
142. ATAL BHUJAL YOJANA (ABY)
XI. S & T………………………………………………………………………………………158 to 166

143. INDUSTRY 4.0


144. THE GANDHIAN CHALLENGE
145. ONLINE CENSORSHIP
146. MALWARE SMOMINRU
147. DIGITAL BHARAT DIGITAL SANSKRITI
148. QUANTUM SUPREMACY
149. AUTOMATED FACIAL RECOGNITION SYSTEM (AFRS)
150. EDGE COMPUTING
XII. SOCIAL ISSUES………………………………………………………………………..166
151. JIYO PARSI SCHEME

XIII. SPACE…………………………………………………………………………………….166 to 173


152. INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL UNION NAMES ASTEROID AFTER PANDIT
JASRAJ
153. STARSHIP SPACECRAFT
154. SATURN
155. GEMINI
156. MARS HAD SALT LAKES SIMILAR TO EARTH : STUDY
157. NEW CLASS OF QUANTUM MATERIALS FOR CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY

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1. ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT

Topic: Problems related to agricultural marketing.


Context:
• Government invokes restrictions under essential commodities act to contain Onion
price.
• The basis lies in demand-supply mismatch caused by:
o Excess rain this year due to which farmers could not harvest their crops in time,
leading to an acute shortage of onion supply in the market.
o Flooding of many onion producing regions.
o Artificial shortage created by illegal hoarding of onions ahead of the festive
season.

About the steps taken:


• The government offloaded about 16000 tonnes of onion from its buffer stock to
increase supply in the market.
• Crackdown on illegal hoarding and implementing stricter stocking limits on onion.
• Export curbs to channelize supply to domestic market.

About Essential Commodities Act, 1955:


• Aim: to ensure the delivery of certain commodities or products, the supply of which if
obstructed owing to hoarding or blackmarketing would affect the normal life of the
people. This includes food, drugs, fuel (petroleum products) etc.
• Under the act, the central government can include new commodities as and when the
need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.
• If the Centre finds that a certain commodity is in short supply and its price is spiking, it
can notify stock-holding limits on it for a specified period.
• The States act on this
notification to specify limits
and take steps to ensure that
these are adhered to.
• Anybody trading or dealing
in the commodity, be it
wholesalers, retailers or even
importers are prevented
from stockpiling it beyond a
certain quantity.
• A State can, however, choose
not to impose any
restrictions.

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2. WORLD FOOD DAY

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.

Context:
• United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said in a booklet that
people globally should eat healthy diets for a zero hunger world.
• The booklet has been released ahead of World Food Day on October 16.

About World Food Day:


• World Food Day is celebrated every year on 16 October in honour of the date of the
founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
• It was established by FAO’s
Member Countries at the
Organization’s 20th General
Conference in November1979.
• The days seek to raise awareness
about the issues behind poverty
and hunger.
• The theme of 2019 World Food Day
is “Our Actions Are Our Future,
Healthy Diets for A #Zero Hunger
World.”
• With the theme, the FAO aims to
create awareness about healthy
diets and how sustainable diets can
help eradicate hunger and
malnutrition.
• The FAO has defined healthy diets
as one that meets the nutritional needs of individuals by providing sufficient, safe, nutritious
and diverse foods to lead an active life and reduce the risk of disease.

About FAO:
• The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialized agency of the
United Nations that leads international efforts to combat hunger.
• It was established in 1945.
• It is headquartered in Rome, Italy.

3. FOOD SAFETY MITRA SCHEME

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Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various


sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context:
• Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare has launched the Food Safety Mitra Scheme
and Eat Right Smart Jacket.
• The scheme aims to create an ecosystem of food safety mitras (FSM) who will help Food
Business organisations (FBO) with licensing and registration, training and auditing hygiene
among others.

About the scheme:


• FSM is an individual professional certified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
(FSSAI) who assists in compliances related to FSS Act, Rules &Regulations.
• The food safety Mitra will have three avatars- Digital Mitra, Trainer Mitra and Hygiene Mitra
depending upon their respective roles and responsibilities.
• The scheme will lead to improved ease of doing business by creating a transparent and
organized ecosystem.
• It will support food businesses wherein food businesses will be able to get trained service
providers at fair prices –lowering the costs of compliance.

About Eat Right


Jacket:
• Eat Right Smart
Jacket has been
introduced to giving
an identity to FSSAI
staff to ensure
transparent
inspection.
• It’s embedded with
an RFID tag and QR
code.
• It is linked to
software to capture
entry of inspection staff into premise for monitoring.
• The Eat Right India Movement was launched by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
(FSSAI) in 2018.
• It is a preventive healthcare measure to trigger social and behavioural change among people.
• The movement aims to improve public health in India andc ombat negative nutritional trends
to fight lifestyle diseases.

About FSSAI:
• Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory autonomous body under
Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

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• It comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.


• FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and
supervision of food safety.

4. FEED OUR FUTURE

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
Context:
• The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a cinema advertisement
campaign ‘Feed Our Future’ for India.

About the campaign:


• The campaign aims to raise awareness and take steps against hunger and malnutrition in
India.
• The purpose of the campaign is
also to build a curiosity in the
audience to search
‘ShareTheMeal’ app which
integrates food donation.
• ShareTheMeal is an app of UN
WFP against global hunger.
• The app enables users to make
small donations to specific WFP
projects and track its progress.

About World Food Programme (WFP):


• The World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization fighting hunger
worldwide.
• It is the food assistance branch of the United Nations.
• The WFP aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition with the ultimate goal of eliminating
the need for food aid itself.
• It was established in 1961 after the 1960 Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
Conference.
• It is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
• It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive
Committee.
• The WFP operations are funded by voluntary donations from world governments,
corporations and private donors.

5. NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE MARKETING


FEDERATION OF INDIA (NAFED)

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Topic: Food processing and


related industries in India-
scope and significance,
location, upstream and
downstream requirements,
supply chain management.

Context:
• More than half of the apple
harvesting season is over, the NAFED has been able to procure less than 1 percent of the total
production in Jammu and Kashmir.

About NAFED:
• National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) was established in
1958.
• It is registered under the Multi State Co-operative Societies Act.
• NAFED was set up to promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit
farmers.

Highlights:
• The objectives of the NAFED are
• (a)To organize, promote and develop marketing, processing and storage of agricultural,
horticultural and forest produce
• (b)To distribute agricultural machinery, implements and other inputs
• (c)To undertake inter-state, import and export trade, wholesale or retail and
• (d)To act and assist for technical advice in agricultural production.
• Agricultural farmers are the main members of NAFED who have the authority to say in the
form of members of the General Body in the working of NAFED.

6. MILLION FARMER’S SCHOOL (MFS) PROGRAMME

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum
support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning,
limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security;
Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
Context:
• Million Farmers’ School (MFS) Programme popularly known as Kisan Pathshala is a scheme
of Uttar Pradesh Government.

About the Programme:

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• The scheme aims to enhance farmers’ incomes through dissemination of agriculture-related


information on technology, government schemes, and modern farming methods.
• The scheme is an extension programme that the government of UP initiated in 2017 with a
view to encourage the use of modern farming techniques to make farming more profitable,
sustainable and resilient.
• Unlike traditional extension services, MFS integrates various facets of agricultural
knowledge into a packaged format, and delivers it through village-level trainings across all
districts in the state.
• The training usually comprises of a daily two-to-three hour session in the evening for a
module of three to five days in the primary school building in the village.

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7. GALO COMMUNITY IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Topic: Arts & Culture.


Context:
• Members of the Galo community in Arunachal Pradesh can recall the name of
their ancestor from 20 generations, and this is made possible by their system of naming.
• At about 1.5 lakh people, the Galos are one of
the 26 major communities of
Arunachal Pradesh, and dominate West Siang,
Lepa Rada and Lower Siang districts.

About the Galos:


• The Galos belong to the Tani group inhabiting
Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, besides Tibet.
• They trace their common origin to a
primeval ancestor, Abotani.
• Unlike the Mising (Assam), Adi, Apatani, Nyishi
and Tagin, the other communities, only the Galos maintain genealogy through given
names.
• They have a system of prefixing the second syllable of a father’s name to that of a
son, who passes on the suffix in his name to his son.
• Hence they can trace the names of ancestors from the first syllable or prefix of
our names,.
• They have nine sub-clans: Angu, Bagra, Doji, Kamnyi, Karso, Naho, Ngomdir, Rasa
or Rame, and Yorsi or Kamsi.
• The numbers of sub-clans of the other clans vary.

8. 39th WORLD CONGRESS OF POETS

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.

Context:
• Vice President has addressed the valedictory ceremony of 39th World Congress of Poets
at Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

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TEST SERIES, VIDEOS & NOTES BOOKS, TESTS VIDEOS & NOTES
1.GEOGRAPHY 1.UPPSC 2.SSC 3.MPSC
2.HISTORY 4.IBPS 5.RAS & RPSC
3.MATHEMATICS ENGINEERING BOOKS & MATERIAL
4. SOCIOLOGY 1. IES 2. GATE 3. IFoS
5.PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 4. COMPUTER SCIENCE
6. POLITICAL SCIENCE 5. MECHINICAL ENGINEERING
7. ECONOMICS OTHER TELEGRAM CHANNELS
8 PHYSICS 1 GOVERNMENT JOBS
9 COMMERCE ACCOUNTANCY 2 LEARN YOGA & MEDITATION
10 ANTHROPOLOGY 3 LEARN ENGLISH
11 LAW 4 BEST DELAS & OFFERS
12 PHILOSOPHY 5 IAS HINDI BOOKS
13 CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTANCY 6 PDFs FOR ALL EXAMS
14 MEDICAL SCIENCE 7. WORLD DIGITAL LIBIRARY
1.CHENNAI STUDENTS 2.BANGLORE STUDENTS 3. CURRENT AFFAIRS
CONTACT FOR ADVERTISEMENT IN ABOVE CHANNLES
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• The World Congress of Poets (WCP) was


founded in 1969.
• The first WCP was held at Manila, Philippines.

About the Congress:


• The 39th World Congress of Poets (WCP)
has been jointly organized by World
Academy of Arts and Culture (WAAC) and
the Kalinga Institute of Industrial
Technology (KIIT).
• The WCP is being held at Kalinga Institute
of Industrial Technology Kalinga Institute of
Social Sciences (KIIT & KISS) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
• The theme for this year is “Compassion through Poetry.”
• The congress is being held in English, Spanish and Chinese.
• The eligibility criteria for poets to be participating in the Congress are as follows:
(a)The poet should have a minimum of one book published with an ISBN and
(b)The poet should have a recommendation letter from a poetry society that is
legally established and has a legal existence.

9. NOBEL PRIZE 2019

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
Context:
• Nobel Prizes 2019 in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine have been declared.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2019:


• It was awarded jointly to William G. Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza.
• William Kaelin is at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Peter Ratcliffe is from
University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and Gregg Semenza is at Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine in Baltimore.
• They have been awarded for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen
availability.

Nobel Prize in Physics 2019:


• It was awarded jointly to James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.
• Canadian-born James Peebles is an emeritus professor at Princeton University, Swiss
scientists Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz, are from the University of Geneva.
• They have been awarded for contributions to the understanding of the evolution of the
universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos.

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• James Peebles has


been awarded for
theoretical
discoveries in
physical cosmology.
Michel Mayor and
Didier Queloz have
been awarded for
the discovery of an
exoplanet orbiting a
solar-type star.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry


2019:
• It has been awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for
the development of lithium-ion batteries.

About Nobel Prize:


• The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by
Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific
advances.
• The will of the Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist Alfred Nobel established the Nobel
prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, peace and literature in 1895.
• The award for Economics was created by Sweden’s Central Bank in 1968.

10. BAUL FESTIVAL

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature
and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Context:
• A three day long Baul festival has
concluded in Dhaka with
performances by Bauls from India
and Bangladesh.
• The Bauls are mystic minstrels
living in rural Bangladesh and
West Bengal, India.

About Baul:
• Baul music represents a
particular type of folk song,
carrying influences of Hindu

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bhakti movements as well as the shuphi, a form of Sufi song.


• Bauls live either near a village or travel from place to place and earn their living from singing
to the accompaniment of the ektara, the lute dotara, a simple one-stringed instrument and a
drum called dubki.
• Bauls belong to an unorthodox devotional tradition influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism,
Bengali, Vasinavism and Sufi Islam yet distinctly different from them.

Highlights:
• Their emphasis lies on the importance of a person’s physical body as the place where God
resides.
• They are admired for this freedom from convention as well as for their music and poetry.
• In 2005, the Baul tradition of Bangladesh was included in the list of Representative List of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

11. UNESCO ASIA-PACIFIC AWARDS FOR CULTURAL


HERITAGE CONSERVATION

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.

Context:
• India has won four UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
• The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation was established in 2000.

About the awards:


• It recognizes the efforts of private individuals and organizations that have successfully
conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.
• It aims to encourage other property owners to undertake conservation projects within their
communities either independently or by seeking PPP (public-private partnerships).
• Award of Distinction was won by Vikram Sarabhai Library, Indian Institute of Management
(IIM), Ahmedabad.
• Award of Merit was won by both Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, Mumbai and Our Lady of
Glory Church, Mumbai.
• Honourable Mention was won by the Flora Fountain, Mumbai.

About UNESCO:
• The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was formed in
1945.
• It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris,France.

12. HOW A WAQF IS CREATED, AND THE LAWS THAT


GOVERN SUCH PROPERTIES?
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Topic: Indian culture will cover the


salient aspects of Art Forms,
Literature and Architecture from
ancient to modern times.
Context:
• The UP Sunni Waqf Board has decided to
surrender its claim on the disputed
Ayodhya site.

About Waqf:
• Waqf is the property given in the name of
God for religious and charitable
purposes.
• In legal terms, permanent dedication by a
person professing Islam of any movable or
immovable property for any purpose
recognised by the Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable.
• A waqf can be formed through a deed or instrument, or a property can be deemed waqf if it
has been used for religious or charitable purposes for a long period of time.
• The proceeds are typically used to finance educational institutions, graveyards, mosques and
shelter homes.
• A person creating the waqf cannot take back the property and the waqf would be a
continuing entity.

Governance of Waqf:
• Waqfs in India are governed by the Wakf Act, 1995.
• A survey commissioner under the Act lists all properties declared as waqf by making local
investigation, summoning witnesses and requisitioning public documents.
• The waqf is managed by a mutawalli who acts as a supervisor.
• It is similar to a trust established under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882.
• But trusts can be set up for a broader purpose than religious and charitable uses.
• A trust established can also be dissolved by the board unlike a waqf.

Powers and functions:


• A Waqf Board is a juristic person with power to acquire and hold property and to transfer
any such property.
• The board can sue and be sued in a court as it is recognised as a legal entity or juristic
person.
• Each state has a Waqf Board headed by a chairperson with one or two nominees from the
state government.
• The Waqf Board has powers under the law to administer the property and take measures
for the recovery of lost properties of any waqf.

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• The waqf can also sanction any transfer of immovable property of a waqf by way of sale,
gift, mortgage, exchange or lease.
• However, the sanction shall not be given unless at least two thirds of the members of the

13. GOAL PROGRAM

Topic: Social empowerment.


Context:
• Union Minister
of Tribal Affairs
has announced
the second
phase of
programme
GOAL (Going
Online as
Leaders) for
tribal women.

About GOAL:
• Going Online as
Leaders (GOAL) is
a digital skilling
initiative
launched by
Facebook in March, 2019 for underprivileged tribal women.
• The program aims at inspiring, guiding and encouraging tribal girls from across India to
become village-level digital young leaders for their communities.
• In order to become a beneficiary of the program the girls should be above 18 years of age
and should have dropped out of school and should be of tribal origin.
• The initiative seeks to nurture and train young girls from India’s tribal heartland across three
core areas – digital literacy, life skills, leadership and entrepreneurship.
• The project also connects the women with senior experts in areas of business, fashion and
arts to learn digital and life skills.

Highlights:
• In the second phase, the Facebook and Tribal ministry will partner to digitally mentor 5000
young women in India’s tribal dominated districts.
• The program will include weekly one-to-one mentoring sessions.
• It will also focus on online safety, entrepreneurship among others.
• As per the data of 2011 census about 104 million tribal people are living in India.
• Most of the tribal people are living in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West
Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andaman Nicobar Islands and some north-
eastern states.

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14. HUNAR HAAT

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature
and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Context:
• Union Minority Affairs Minister has said that the Government will provide employment
opportunities to lakhs of artisans, craftsmen and traditional culinary experts through Hunar
Haat in the next 5 years.

About Hunar Haat:


• The Hunar Haat is an exhibition of handicrafts, embroidery made by artisans from the
Minority Communities.
• Hunar Haats are organised by Ministry of Minority Affairs under USTTAD (Upgrading the
Skills & Training in
Traditional Arts/Crafts
for Development)
scheme.
• The Haats have become
a successful mission to
provide employment
and opportunities for
artisans, craftsmen and
culinary experts in
national as well
international markets.

About USTAAD:
• The scheme Upgrading
the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD) was launched in
2015.
• The Scheme aims at preserving & promoting the rich heritage of the traditional arts & crafts
of the Minority communities.
• The scheme also aims to engage the trained master craftsmen/artisans in training of
minority youth in various specific traditional arts/crafts.

15. KITTUR UTSAV

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature
and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context:

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• Chief Minister of Karnataka has


inaugurated the Kittur Utsav festival.
• Kittur Utsav is a three-day festival which
celebrates the Queen Rani
Channamma’s victory over East India’s
company in 1824.
• The festival organizes sports, cultural
programmes and lectures by resource
persons on the kingdom of Rani
Channamma.

About Kittur Chennamma:


• Kittur Chennamma (1778 – 1829) was
an Indian freedom fighter and Rani of the Kittur, a former princely state in Karnataka.
• She is one of the first women freedom fighters to have fought against the British rule in
India.
• She led an armed force against the British East India Company in 1824 in defiance of the
doctrine of lapse in an attempt to maintain Indian control over the region.
• She was defeated in the third war and was imprisoned at Bailhongal Fort where she died in
1829.

About Doctrine of Lapse:


• The doctrine of lapse was an annexation policy applied by the British East India Company in
India until 1859.
• Under the doctrine, the ruler of an independent state died childless, the right of ruling the
State reverted or ‘lapsed’ to the sovereign.
• The policy is most commonly associated with Lord Dalhousie who was the Governor General
of the East India Company in India between 1848 and 1856.
• However, it was not solely his invention.
• The East India Company had annexed Kittur in 1824, Mandvi in 1839, Kolaba and Jalaun in
1840 and Surat in 1842 by imposing a ‘doctrine of lapse’.

About Southern Command:


• Southern Command is a formation of the Indian Army since 1895.
• It has around 40% of the country’s landmass as its area of responsibility.
• The Sudarshan Chakra Corps, a strike corps of the Southern Command.
• It is headquartered in Bhopal.
• The corps has various formations of Armoured, Infantry, Artillery, Air Defence and
Engineering among other units.

16. ASI CLEARS FURTHER EXCAVATIONS AT FOUR SITES IN TAMIL NADU

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture
from ancient to modern times.

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Context:
• Findings during keeladi excavations in September proved that history of Sangam era earlier
considered as old as 3rd century BC, is as old as 6th century BC.
• Link between Keeladi and Indus Valley period: To establish a direct link between the Sangam
era and the Indus Valley civilisation.
• ASI unearthed large-scale brick structures and associated artefacts of high value which
suggests an active urban life in 6th century BC.

About Archaeological survey of India:


• The Archaeological Survey of India is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry
of Culture.
• Responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural
monuments in the country.
• It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.

About Sangam age:


• Sangam period is the period of history of ancient Tamil Nadu and Kerala (known as
Tamilakam) spanning from c. 6th century BCE to c. 1st century CE.
• It is named after the famous Sangam academies of poets and scholars centered in the city
of Madurai.

Based on period of composition


• Patinenmelkanakku
o Works composed between 200 BCE to 100 BCE
o Oldest surviving Tamil poetry
• Patinenkilkanakku
o Works composed between 100 CE and 500 CE
o Collection of 18 poetry compositions
o Mostly composed before the age of the Pallavas
o Chief works include Thirukkural, Palamoli, naladiyar, etc.

Based on the context and interpretation


• Aham (Inner)
o Abstract discussion on human aspects such as love, sexual relations, etc.
• Puram (outer)
o Human experiences such as heroism, customs, social life, ethics, philanthropy,
etc.

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17. WHY HAVE THE NAGA PEACE TALKS STUMBLED?

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Context:
• The Naga peace process appears to have hit a roadblock after 22 years of negotiations.

Background:
• The Centre’s push for a solution to the vexed issue by October this year and the non-
flexibility of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM)
on the “Naga national flag” and “Naga Yezhabo (constitution)” are said to be the primary
reasons.
• But the issue is more complex than the twin conditions, as it affects Nagaland’s neighbours
in northeast India.

The trigger factors:


• Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi — also the Naga talks interlocutor — had in August said the
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed the need for the Naga peace process to be
concluded early with the Centre having resolved “all substantive issues” in the last five
years.

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• On October 18, Mr. Ravi held a consultative


meeting with various tribe-based and church
organisations of Nagaland that purportedly
favoured working on a separate flag and
constitution after inking the peace deal.
• In a statement, he said a mutually-agreed
draft comprehensive settlement was ready to
be signed but for the “procrastinating
attitude” the NSCN-IM has adopted to delay
the settlement.
• He also said the extremist group had “mischievously” dragged in the Framework Agreement
to impute “imaginary contents” to it — a reference to the flag and constitution.

About the Framework agreement:


• The Bharatiya Janata Party, underlining its “commitment” to reaching out to the northeast
after coming to power at the Centre in 2014, sought to fast-track the Naga political issue
that had slackened since the NSCN-IM-declared truce in 1997.
• Mr. Ravi and NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah signed the Framework
Agreement on August 3, 2015 in the presence of Mr. Modi.
• This agreement, after nearly 80 rounds of talks, acted as a balm for the Nagas who were
beginning to get restless about Delhi’s seriousness in solving the issue; both sides
maintained secrecy about its contents.
• The optimism among a section of the Nagas eroded a bit when the Central government
brought other Naga armed groups on board.
• An agreement on the political parameters of the settlement was worked out with the
working committee of these groups, clubbed the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs),
on November 17, 2017.
• This agreement ostensibly made the peace process inclusive but it bred suspicion about
Delhi exploiting divisions within the Nagas on tribal and geopolitical lines.

Impacts on other states:


• Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur are wary of the NSCN-IM’s concept of Nagalim or
Greater Nagaland that could lead to a redrawing of their boundaries.
• Manipur has begun protesting with Assembly Speaker Y. Khemchand Singh telling Mr. Modi
in a petition that any compromise with Manipur’s territorial integrity would not be
tolerated.
• The other two States are “waiting and watching” following reports that the final peace deal
could yield a pan-Naga cultural entity and territorial councils beyond Nagaland.
• Meanwhile, the Nagaland government’s order cancelling leave of administrative and police
personnel and advice to stock ration has triggered panic buying of essential and fuel — in
Nagaland and Manipur — with the worst expected if the talks fail.

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18. BRAHMOS

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and


effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology;
indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Context:
• The land-attack version
of BrahMos supersonic
cruise missile has been
successfully test-fired.
• It was jointly launched
by Defence Research
and Development
Organisation (DRDO)
and
BrahMos Aerospace
from Balasore’s
Integrated Test Range
(ITR), Odhisa.

Features:
• It has a strike range
of 290 km.
• It can be fired from
land as well as sea-
based platforms.
• It features indigenous components such as propulsion system, airframe, and power
supply.

About the missile:


• The BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile.
• It is developed by BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd. (BAPL), New Delhi.
• It is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based
targets.
• It has been operationalized in the Indian Armed Forces with all the three services.

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19. EXERCISE KAZIND – 2019

Topic: Security
challenges and their
management in
border areas; linkages
of organized crime
with terrorism.

Context:
• The KAZIND 2019
commenced on
3rd October at
Pithoragarh,
Uttarakhand.
• The exercise will end on 15th October 2019.

About the exercise:


• KAZIND is an annual military exercise between India and Kazakhstan army.
• Exercise KAZIND-2019 is the fourth edition.
• The aim of exercise is joint training of troops in Counter Insurgency/ Counter Terrorism
operations in both Jungle and Mountainous terrain.
• It is conducted alternatively in Kazakhstan and India.
• KAZIND 2018 was held in Otar region, Kazakhstan.

20. GOA MARITIME CONCLAVE – 2019

Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context:
• The Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC)-2019 was inaugurated by the National Security Advisor
(NSA) at Goa on 4th October 2019.
• The theme for the conclave is “Common Maritime Priorities in IOR and need for Regional
Maritime Strategy”.

Background:
• The conclave was attended by the heads of the navies of ten nations from the Indian
Ocean region of (a)Bangladesh (b)Indonesia, (c)Malaysia (d)Maldives (e)Mauritius
(f)Myanmar (g)Seychelles, (h)Singapore (I)Sri Lanka and (j)Thailand.

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• It focussed on issues such as (a) capacity building among Indian Ocean region (IOR)
navies to tackle emerging maritime threats and (b)discussing cooperative strategies
for enhancing interoperability among partner maritime agencies.

Highlights:
• During the conclave, NSA has said that seas, outer space and cyberspace are going to
offer the biggest opportunity and also present the most serious threat to security.
• Further, the NSA also stressed on the need to continuously design infrastructure and
research-backed intelligence to tackle new threats arising from the seas.
• The National Security Adviser (NSA) in India is the senior official on the National
Security Council (NSC) of India and the chief adviser to the Prime Minister of India on
national and international security policy.

21. HIM VIJAY EXERCISE

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages


of organized crime with terrorism.

Context:

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• China has raised strong objection to the ongoing Him Vijay military exercise.
• Exercise Him Vijay is taking place in October, 2019 in Arunachal Pradesh.

About the exercise:


• The exercise is to test mobility, communication and coordination of such huge body
of fast-moving troops in difficult terrain.
• It is first time the integrated battle groups (IBGs) is taking part in an exercise.
• Three mountain IBGs carved out of Panagarh-based 17 Corps’ (Mountain Strike Corps)
59 Mountain Division is taking part in the
exercise.

22. INDIA TO SET UP COASTAL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM IN


BANGLADESH

Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context:
• Bangladesh Prime Minister is on a four day
visit to India.
• India and Bangladesh has inked a MoU that
will enable India to set up a coastal
surveillance system radar in Bangladesh.

Background:
• The two countries agreed at early
operationalization of Bangladesh
Bhutan India Nepal (BBIN) Motor
Vehicles Agreement for movement of goods and passengers between the member
countries who are willing and ready.
• They have also directed their officials to expedite establishment of twelve Border
Haats which have been agreed to by both countries.

About the agreements signed:


• The use of the Chattogram and Mongla ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods
to and from India particularly from Northeastern India.

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• The exchange of data and information to prepare a framework of interim sharing


agreements for six rivers- (a)Manu, Muhuri, Khowai and Gomati rivers of Tripura
(b)Dharla river of Bangladesh and (c)Dudhkumar river of West Bengal.
• The withdrawal of water from Feni River for drinking water scheme for Sabroom town,
Tripura.
• The Implementation of the Lines of Credit (LoCs) committed by India to Bangladesh.

About the projects:


• Import of bulk Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from Bangladesh.
• Inauguration of Vivekananda Bhaban (student’s hostel) at Ramakrishna Mission,
Dhaka.
• Inauguration of Bangladesh-India Professional Skill Development Institute (BIPSDI) at
the Institution of Diploma Engineers Bangladesh (IDEB), Khulna, Diploma Engineers
Bangladesh (IDEB), Khulna.

23. PROJECT BEEHIVE

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of


organized crime with terrorism.
Context:
• Indian Army has launched a project named
Project Beehive.
• Project Beehive was launched by the
Army’s Corps of Electronics and
Mechanical Engineers (EME) on September
1, 2019.

About the project:


• The project seeks to achieve greater
automation of the Corps and connect all its
workshops to an integrated smart network
with real-time data analytics capabilities.
• The centralised network would allow Indian army to access data about any equipment across the
country in real-time basis.
• The project would also have the capability to analyse the data and say which equipment is due for
maintenance.
• The project has been divided into eight modules of which the first module is ready and the second
is under preparation.
• The Army had earlier automated its workshops under WASP (Workshop Honey bees) which is now
being upgraded to be on the same level with Beehive.

About Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME):

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• The Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) is an arms and service branch of the
Indian Army.
• The Corps has varying responsibilities related to the design, development, trial, inspection and
refit of weapon systems and equipment.
• They also provide technical advice to units and conduct recovery operations in peace and war.

24. SHINYUU MAITRI

Topic: Security challenges and their


management in border areas;
linkages of organized crime with
terrorism.
Context:
• The Indian Air Force will be carrying out a
joint military exercise called ‘Shinyuu Maitri’
with Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF)
from 17 to 23 October 2019.

About Shinyuu Maitri:


• Shinyuu Maitri is a bilateral air exercise between the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) and
Indian Air Force (IAF).
• The exercise will be held at Air Force Station, Arjan Singh in Panagarh town, West Bengal.
• The objective of the exercise will be to undertake Joint Mobility and Tactical interoperability
among the two forces.
• Indian Air force (IAF) C-130 J aircraft of Special Operations Squadron and JASDF’s C-130 H of
Tactical Airlift Squadron will participate in the exercise.

25. EX EASTERN BRIDGE – V

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role


of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of
cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
Context:
• Indian Air Force will be participating in a Bilateral Joint exercise with Royal Air Force Oman
(RAFO) named EX EASTERN BRIDGE-V.

About the exercise:


• The exercise EASTERN BRIDGE-V will be held at Air Force Base Masirah in Oman.
• The exercise was first held in 2009.

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• The joint exercise aims to improve interoperability during mutual operations between both Air
Forces and it will provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
• It will be for the first time when MiG-29 fighter aircraft will be participating in an international
military exercise outside India.
• On the other hand, Royal Air Force of Oman contingent comprises of F-16 next-generation fighter
jet, Hawk fighter aircraft and Oman’s Euro fighter Typhoon.

Highlights:
• Naseem-al-Bahr is a bilateral biennial naval exercise between India and Oman.
• AL NAGAH is a bilateral military exercise between India and Oman.

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26. INDIA – US DEFENCE TECHNOLOGIES AND TRADE


INITIATIVE (DTTI)

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.

Context:
• The ninth India-US Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI) group meeting is scheduled
to happen in New Delhi.

About DTTI:
• The Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI) mechanism was launched in 2012.It is not a
treaty or a law.
• It aims to include strengthening India’s defence industrial base, exploring new areas of
technological development and expanding U.S.-India business ties.
• The initiative is led by Undersecretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment from the
United States and Secretary for Defence Protection from India.

Highlights:
• Transform the bilateral defense
relationship into one that is
limited only by independent
strategic decisions rather than
bureaucratic obstacles or
inefficient procedures.
• Strengthen India’s defense
industrial base by moving away
from the traditional buyer-seller
dynamic toward a more
collaborative approach.
• Explore new areas of
technological collaboration from
science and technology cooperation through co-development and co-production.
• Expand the U.S.-Indian business ties.

27. DEFENCE ACQUISITION COUNCIL

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


Context:
• Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence minister has accorded approval for three
projects to be indigenously designed, developed and manufactured by the Indian industry.

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• The first two projects include third generation Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) and the
Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) for the T-72 and T-90 Tanks.

About the project:


• The third generation ATGM would provide fire and forget and Top Attack capabilities to the troops
in an armoured battle.
• On the other hand, APUs would enable incorporation of various upgrades to Fire Control System
and Night Fighting capabilities of the Tanks.
• These projects will be progressed under the Make
in India II category and will provide a boost to
indigenous research and development in the
Private Sector.
• Further, the third indigenous project is the
Electronic Warfare (EW) systems for the mountain
and High Altitude terrain which would be
designed and developed by Defence Research and
development organization (DRDO).

About Defence acquisition council:


• Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) is the highest
decision making body for military procurement.
• The council was formed in 2001.
• It is headed by Defence minister.
• The objective of the DAC is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of
the Armed Forces in terms of capabilities sought and time frame prescribed by optimally utilizing
the allocated budgetary resources.
• The council also gives policy guidelines to acquisitions based on long-term procurement plans.
• It also clears all acquisitions including imported equipment and those produced indigenously or
under a foreign licence.

28. SINDHU SUDARSHAN

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


Context:
• Indian Army is going to conduct an exercise code named ‘Sindhu Sudarshan.
• It is in Rajasthan from 29 November to 4 December 2019.
• The aim of the exercise is to evaluate the capability of the Defence forces to strike deep into
enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle.

About the Exercise:


• The exercise will be conducted by Southern command along with XXI Corps which is also known
as the Sudarshan Chakra Corps.
• The exercise will witness high degree of synergy between the Army and the Air Force.

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• The army will assess the operational efficiency of


the Strike Corps to fight in the desert terrain.
• The Indian Air Force (IAF) to provide intimate
support in terms of destruction of targets and air
lifting of the troops.
• Further, the exercise will also see the participation
of newly formed Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) along the Western Front.

About Integrated Battle Groups:


• IBGs are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations which can swiftly launch strikes
against adversary in case of hostilities.
• Each IBG is tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain and Task.
• The resources will be allotted based on the three Ts.
• The IBGs are defensive and offensive.
• The offensive IBGs are trained to quickly mobilise and make thrust into enemy territory for strikes.
• On the other hand, the defensive IBGs are trained to hold ground at vulnerable points or where
enemy action is expected.
• Integrated Battle Groups both on the Western and Northern borders.
• They have been created for quicker and formidable launch of attack on enemy.

About Southern Command:


• Southern Command is a formation of the Indian Army since 1895.
• It has around 40% of the country’s landmass as its area of responsibility.
• The Sudarshan Chakra Corps, a strike corps of the Southern Command.
• It is headquartered in Bhopal.
• The corps has various formations of Armoured, Infantry, Artillery, Air Defence and Engineering
among other units.

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29. BANKING SYSTEM SAFE, STABLE : RBI

Topic: Indian Economy.


Context:
• The central bank issued a statement that the Indian banking system was ‘safe and
stable’.
• With the panic over the crisis at the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank
threatening to snowball, the Reserve Bank of India stepped in to assure depositors.

Background:
• Shares of commercial banks took a beating as a crisis of confidence gripped the banking
sector.
• Private sector lender Yes Bank’s shares tanked 22.8% on Tuesday, after declining 15% on
Monday.
• It closed the day at ₹32.00.

Stock market status:


• Another private lender RBL Bank’s shares fell 8.7% on Tuesday, while IndusInd Bank stock
went down by 6.3%.
• Troubled mortgage financier Dewan Housing Finance’s stock declined 20%.
• Private banks’ shares also took a beating due to concerns over exposure to the non-
banking financial sector.
• The Sensex closed 361.92 points, or 0.94% lower, to close at 38,305.41 points.
• Amid the falling banking stocks and social media rumours about the health of the Indian
banking system following the crisis at the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank, the
Reserve Bank of India issued a statement asking people not to pay heed to such
speculation.

Highlights:
• Loans by PMC Bank to the now bankrupt real estate developer HDIL had turned sour many
years ago, but the lender had not classified those loans as ‘non- performing’, fearing harm
of reputation.
• Last week, the regulator imposed restrictions, including a cap on withdrawals from the
multi-State cooperative bank due to financial irregularities.

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30. KHADI AND VILLAGE INDUSTRIES COMMISSION

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.


Context:
• The Khadi and Village
Industries
Commission (KVIC) is
a statutory body
formed by the
Government of India,
under the Act of
Parliament, ‘Khadi
and Village Industries
Commission Act of
1956’.
• It is an apex
organisation under
the Ministry of Micro,
Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India,
which seeks to – “plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and
development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other
agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.”

Objectives:
• The Social Objective – Providing employment in rural areas
• The Economic Objective – Providing saleable articles
• The Wider Objective – Creating self-reliance amongst people and building up a strong
rural community spirit.

31. WHY RBI MAY CUT INTEREST RATES TOMORROW AND


WHY IT MAY NOT BE ENOUGH?

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Topic: Indian Economy.

Context:
• The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee is set to announce its bi-monthly
policy review on October 4, 2019.

Significance:
• The RBI is likely to cut the repo rate by anywhere between 35 to 40 basis points due to
following reasons-
o Inflation is under control. Hence, there is room to reduce interest rates without
fueling a surge in the price level.
o The transmission of the repo rate is also weak so a deeper cut is required to
achieve the goal.
o The government has just
cut corporate tax rates in its
bid to incentivise more
investments. Therefore,
cutting interest rates will
further help that goal as it
would make it cheaper to
borrow money.
o Further, the larger rate cut
will also allow banks which
are not willing to link
interest rates to the repo rate for quicker transmission of rate cuts.
• Experts have said that the repo rate cut may not help Indian economy to a far extent as
Indian economy is facing its worst slowdown since the dip in economic activity following
the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

About Monetary Policy Committee (MPC):


• The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of India.
• The MPC is made up of six members with three nominated by the Union government and
three representing the RBI.
• The MPC is mandated by law to ensure that retail inflation stays within a band of two
percentage points of the target inflation rate of 4%.
• Repo stands for ‘Repurchasing Option’.
• It refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the RBI.

32. VANDE BHARAT EXPRESS

Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context:

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• Union Minister for Home Affairs has


flagged off the New Delhi-Katra
Vande Bharat Express in New Delhi.
• The Vande Bharat Express will
depart from the New Delhi Railway
Station and reach Katra in Jammu
and Kashmir.

Background:
• The train will give a big boost to
the religious tourism as many
Hindus have a desire to visit
Vaishno devi Temple which is situated in Katra at least once in the lifetime.
• This is the second Vande Bharat Express as the first runs between Delhi and
Varanasi.

About Vande Bharat Express:


• Vande Bharat is India’s first indigenously built engineless train capable of running
at a speed of up to 160 kmph.
• It is also being referred to as a successor to the 30-year-old Shatabdi Express.
• The fully air-conditioned semi-high speed train will cut travel time by 15% as
compared to the Shatabdi.
• The train has been manufactured under ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Integral
Coach Factory (ICF).
• The features of the train include
• (a) modern air- conditioned coaches
• (b) touch free automatic doors
• (c) GPS-enabled passenger information system and
• (d) onboard uninterrupted Wifi and infotainment system.

33. GOVERNMENT CONSTITUTES WORKING GROUP TO


PREPARE CONTOURS OF NEW INDUSTRIAL POLICY

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in


various sectors and issues arising out of their design and
implementation.
Context:
• Government has constituted a working group to prepare the contours of a new industrial
policy to make India a manufacturing hub.
• This will be the third industrial policy after the first in 1956 and the second in 1991.

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Background:
• The new industrial policy will replace the industrial policy of 1991 which was prepared in
the backdrop of the balance of payment crisis.
• The policy will be prepared with an aim to (a)create jobs for the next two decades
(b)promote foreign technology transfer and (c)attract $100 billion foreign investment
annually.

About the working group:


• The working group will be chaired by the Department for Promotion of Industry and
Internal Trade (DPIIT) secretary.
• The group has government representatives from seven states including Andhra Pradesh,
Assam, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, besides other two as members.
• The group will also have members from industry chambers, including FICCI, CII and
Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and additional secretary/joint secretary
from six ministries including commerce, revenue, economic affairs and MSME.
• It will consult stakeholders, identify pain points of industry and develop actionable
solutions for short and medium term.
• It will also delineate the role for private sector in achieving the national targets.

34. CABINET APPROVES NEW STRATEGIC DISINVESTMENT


PROCESS

Topic: Indian Economy.

Context:
• Union Cabinet has approved a new process of strategic disinvestment with a view to
expediting privatization of select PSUs.

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• Under the new policy, the


Department of Investment
and Public Asset
Management (DIPAM)
under the Ministry of
Finance has been made the
nodal department for the
strategic disinvestment
sale.

Background:
• Currently, PSUs for strategic
sale are identified by NITI Aayog.
• But the new policy has now allowed DIPAM and NITI Aayog to jointly identify PSUs for
strategic disinvestment.
• Further, the DIPAM secretary would now co-chair the inter-ministerial group on
disinvestment along with the secretary of administrative ministries concerned.

About Disinvestment:
• Disinvestment is defined as the action of an organization or government selling or
liquidating an asset or subsidiary.
• It is also referred to as divestment.
• In the case of Public Sector Undertakings (PSU), disinvestment means Government selling/
diluting its stake (share) in PSUs in which it has a majority holding.
• Disinvestment is carried out as a budgetary exercise under which the government
announces yearly targets for disinvestment for selected PSUs.
• Government has set the disinvestment target of 1.05 lakh crore for the current financial
year 2019-20.

Significance:
• It improves the structure of incentives and accountability of PSUs in India.
• It can help in the revival of loss-making public sector enterprises (PSU).
• It can help in financing the increasing fiscal deficit.
• It can also finance the large-scale infrastructure development, defense, education and
healthcare projects.

Concerns:
• The process of disinvestment is not favoured socially as it is against the interest of socially
disadvantageous people.
• After disinvestment, the employees of Public Sector Units (PSUs) will lose their jobs.
• Government’s dividend income will also decline as it will have less shares in the PSUs.

35. FINANCE MINISTER TO


INAUGURATE NATIONAL TAX E-ASSESSMENT CENTRE

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Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of


resources, growth, development and employment.
Context:
• Union Finance Minister will be inaugurating the National e- Assessment Centre (NeAC) in
New Delhi.
• The centre is part of the E-assessment scheme, 2019.

About E-assessment scheme:


• The scheme aims at faceless e-assessment to impart greater efficiency, transparency and
accountability in the assessment process.
• There would be no physical interface between taxpayers and tax officers.
• The scheme makes it mandatory for the taxman to make communication with taxpayers
online.
• The tax notices will be issued by a centralised e-assessment centre requiring taxpayers to
reply only through digital mode.

Highlights:
• The cases selected for scrutiny shall be allocated to assessment units in a random manner
and notices shall be issued electronically by a Central Cell without disclosing the name,
designation or location of the assessing officer.
• The Scheme will have dedicated E-assessment centres such as the National E-assessment
Centre, Regional E-assessment Centre, assessment units, verification units, technical units
and reviewer units with each centre and unit having a clearly defined role and process to
follow.
• The income tax department would use data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine
learning and other latest tools to ascertain misreporting or evasion.

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36. GREEN CHANNEL

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various


quasi-judicial bodies.
Context:
• The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has
given its approval under the ‘green channel’ route to acquisition of Essel Mutual Fund by BAC
Acquisitions Pvt Ltd, a Sachin Bansal-owned entity.

About Green Channel:


• The green channel concept was recommended by the high level panel that reviewed
the competition law.
• The Green Channel allows for automatic approval for certain Mergers and Acquisitions
(M&As) or combinations based on specified criteria and pre-filing consultation.
• The process is aimed at sustaining and promoting a speedy, transparent and
accountable review of combination cases to create a culture of compliance and
support economic growth.
• Under the framework, green channel approvals can be availed in combinations where
there are
• (a) no horizontal overlaps
• (b)no existing or potential vertical relationships and
• (c) no complementary business activities between the combining parties in which any
of the combining parties hold shares or have control.

About CCI:
• Competition Commission of India is a statutory body of the Government of India
established in 2003.
• It is responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to
prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
• CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
• The act prohibits
• (a)anti-competitive agreements (b)abuse of dominant position by enterprises and
(c)regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and mergers and
acquisitions) which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on
competition within India.

37. GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS INDEX

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
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Context:
• The Global

Competitiveness Index (GCI) compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has been
released.
• The Global Competitiveness Index is released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

About the Index:


• It was launched in 1979.
• It ranks the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organised
into 12 pillars.
• These 12 pillars are (1) Institutions (2) Infrastructure (3) ICT adoption (4) Macroeconomic
stability (5) Health (6) Skills (7) Product market (8) Labour market (9) Financial system (10)
Market size (11) Business dynamism and (12) Innovation capability.

Highlights:
• Singapore has replaced the US as the world’s most competitive country.
• The US was positioned at 2nd place and was followed by Hong Kong at third place and
Netherlands and Switzerland at 4th and 5th places respectively.
• China was ranked at 28th position and was the highest ranked among BRICS nations.
• Vietnam showed higher improvements in the region and was ranked at 67.
• The report has also said that Asia Pacific was the most competitive region globally.
• It was followed by Europe and North America.

India’s ranking:
• India has moved down 10 places to rank 68th in 2019 from 58th in 2018 on the global
competitiveness index.
• The index has flagged limited ICT (information, communications and technology) adoption,
poor health conditions and low healthy life expectancy as the reasons.

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• India is also among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil which is ranked
even lower than India at 71st this year.
• In the overall ranking, India is followed by some of its neighbours including Sri Lanka at
84th place, Bangladesh at 105th, Nepal at 108th and Pakistan at 110th place.
• India was ranked high at 15th place in terms of corporate governance, while it is ranked
second globally for shareholder governance.
• In terms of the market size, India is ranked third and has the same rank for renewable
energy regulation.
• Besides, India has also punched above its development status when it comes to innovation
which is well ahead of most emerging economies and on par with several advanced
economies.
• According to the report, India also needs to work on its skill base, market efficiency, trade
openness and worker protection rights.
• The ratio of female workers to male workers in India was 0.26.
• It was ranked at 128th place and was very low as compared to certain other developing
countries.

38. EFFECTS OF GLOBAL SLOWDOWN MORE


PRONOUNCED IN INDIA : IMF CHIEF

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of


resources, growth, development and employment.

Context:
• The International
Monetary Fund (IMF)
President has said that
the world economy is
experiencing a
synchronized slowdown
and emerging economies
such as India and Brazil
are the most affected by
the slowdown.
• The IMF chief said that
she expects slower
growth in nearly 90% of
the world this year.
• She said that trade tensions had substantially weakened the manufacturing and
investment activities worldwide.

Background:

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• The services and consumption could soon be affected as global trade growth has come to
a near standstill.
• Further, she said that the trade conflicts could impact around $700 billion reduction in
global gross domestic product (GDP) output by 2020 or around 0.8%.

About IMF:
• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries.
• It was established in 1945.
• Headquartered in Washington, D.C.
• The main goal of IMF is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system.
• It also seeks to facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable
economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

39. GST COUNCIL FORMS 12-MEMBER PANEL

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of


resources, growth, development and employment.
Context:
• The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has constituted a 12-member committee of officials
from states and Centre to suggest steps to augment revenue and improve compliance under
the GST regime.
• The committee was formed after the gross monthly collection has fallen to a 19 month low of
₹91,916 crore in September, 2019.
• The Government has set a target of collecting over ₹1 lakh crore every month during the
current fiscal.

About the committee:


• The committee will have the officials from Centre and GST Network (GSTN).
• The committee will also have officials from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West
Bengal and Punjab who will represent the States.
• Any other State could also join the committee on a voluntary basis.

About the Terms of Reference:


• systemic changes in GST including checks and balances to prevent misuse
• measures to improve voluntary compliance and anti- evasion measures using better data
analytics and better administrative coordination
• policy measures and relevant changes needed in the law and measures for expansion of tax
base under the GST regime

About GST Council:


• Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council is a constitutional body for making recommendations to
the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax.
• As per Article 279A (1) of the constitution, the GST Council was constituted by the President.
• The council consists of the following members:

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• (a) The Union Finance Minister is the


Chairperson
• (b) The Union Minister of State in-charge
of Revenue of finance and
• (c) The Minister In-charge of finance or
taxation or any other Minister nominated
by each State Government.

40. SPECIAL AND DIFFERENTIAL (S&D) TREATMENT

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
Context:
• India China and several African nations has cautioned against diluting special and differential
treatment provisions related to developing countries, as it would lead to deadlock at the WTO.

About Special and differential treatment:


• The WTO Agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries
special rights and which give developed countries the possibility to treat developing
countries more favourably than other WTO Members.
• These provisions are referred to as “special and differential treatment” (S&D)
provisions.

About the special provisions:


• longer time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments,
• measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries,
• provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing
countries,
• support to help developing countries build the capacity to carry out WTO work, handle
disputes, and implement technical standards, and
• provisions related to least-developed country (LDC) Members.

About the issues:


• Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail these
benefits.
• In the case of least developed countries, the status is given as per the per capita income status
of the UN.

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• However, the US has opposed self-selection of


the developing country status and demanded
stopping of developing country concessions to
several of these countries, including China and
India.
• But India and the others have maintained that
there was a need to ensure that S&D treatment
remains as they are still home to a large number
of poor and vulnerable sections.

41. BULLET TRAIN PROJECT

Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context:
• Gujarat high court rejected more than 100 pleas challenging the land acquisition process for
Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) Project.

About the project:


• The E5 Shinkansen series Bullet Train Project (Mumbai- Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR)
is an India-Japan joint venture.
• The agreement was signed with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
• The project was inaugurated in 2017 and is scheduled for its first run in 2022.
• The project is a first of its kind in India.
• Originating at the Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai and terminating at the Sabarmati, the high
speed train corridor will pass through Gujarat, Maharashtra and Dadra& Nagar Haveli.
• The proposed corridor lies in Western Railway zone.
• National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) is the implementing agency of the project.

About NHSRCL:
• It was incorporated in 2016 under the Companies Act, 2013.
• Its mandate is to finance, construct, maintain and manage the High Speed Rail Corridor in
India.
• The Company has been modelled as ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ in the joint sector with equity
participation by Central Government through Ministry of Railways and two State
Governments viz. Government of Gujarat and Government of Maharashtra.

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42. WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
Context:
• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released the World Economic Outlook (WEO)
Report.
• The report has downgraded India’s growth projections to6.1% in 2019 and 7% in 2020.

Background:
• The report has said that the global economy is at its slowest pace of growth at 3%.This is a
serious climb down from 3.8% in 2017.
• However, the report has said that the Global growth rate is projected to improve to 3.4% by
2020.
• Further, the growth of advanced economies is projected to slow down by 1.7%.
• But the emerging and developing economies are projected to experience a growth pick up
from 3.9% in 2019 to 4.6%in 2020.

Reason behind the slowdown:


• The higher tariffs and prolonged uncertainty in the trade policy are the major reasons for
dented investment and the slowdown in the growth.
• The automobile industry is contracting mainly due to the disruptions from new standard
emission standards.
• This predominantly has an effect in China.
• Further, trade barriers and geopolitical tensions like Brexit is hampering investment,
confidence and growth.

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India’s way forward:


• IMF has suggested that the monetary policy and broad- based structural reforms should be
used to address cyclical weakness and strengthen confidence.
• A credible fiscal consolidation path is needed to bring down India’s elevated public debt over
the medium term.
• This should be supported by subsidy-spending rationalisation and tax-base enhancing
measures.
• Further, Governance of public sector banks and the efficiency of their credit allocation needs
should be strengthened.
• Land reforms should also be enhanced to encourage and expedite infrastructure
development.

About IMF:
• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries.
• It was established in 1945.
• Headquartered in Washington, D.C.
• The main goal of IMF is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system.
• It also seeks to facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable
economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

43. WORLD GIVING INDEX

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
Context:
• The World Giving Index 2019 has been released.
• The World Giving Index (WGI) is an annual report published by the Charities Aid Foundation.
• It is an international organisation that promotes giving to transform lives and communities
across the world.

About World Giving Index:


• The index uses data gathered by Gallup and ranks countries in the world according to how
charitable they are.
• The report is based its findings on three parameters
• (a)number of people donating money
• (b)volunteering time and
• (c)helping a stranger.
Highlights:
• The report has found that worldwide more than 2.5 billion people helped a stranger over the
past decade with African countries accounting for 7 of the top 10 places where people are
most likely to do so.
• The index has ranked USA at the top followed by Myanmar, New Zealand and Australia.

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• India has been ranked at 82 among the 128 countries surveyed.


• At the bottom of the list are Yemen, Greece and China.
• Further, India at 82 on the index falls below Nepal (53), Pakistan (69), Mexico (73) and Brazil
(74).

44. ASIA – PACIFIC TRADE AND INVESTMENT REPORT

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
Context:
• The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019 has been released.
• The report has been published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for
Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development(UNCTAD).
Background:
• The report provides information on developments in
(a) intra- and inter-regional trade in goods and services
(b) foreign direct investment
(c) trade facilitation measures
(d) trade policy measures and
(e) preferential trade policies and agreements.

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Highlights:
• The report has said that the Non-tariff measures (NTMs) have increased in the past two
decades and are affecting trade as well sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Asian
countries.
• Around half the Asia-Pacific’s economies have at least one NTM addressing water and energy
efficiency and only 10%have measures addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU)
fishing and illegal timber trade.
• NTMs can also affect foreign direct investment negatively which may slow down countries’
economic activities.
• It can also have a direct impact on the performance of trading partners.

Suggested means:
• The report has called for increasing cooperation with developed economies to work out
regional mechanisms and developing common guidelines on sustainability impact
assessment of NTMs.
• The report has also recommended reviewing current NTMs and ensuring that new NTMs are
systematically follows and monitored.
• The report also said that the implementation of NTMs in the right spirit can help in achieving
SDGs.

About Non-tariff measures (NTM):


• Non-tariff measures (NTMs) are policy measures other than ordinary customs tariffs that can
potentially have an economic effect on international trade in goods, changing quantities
traded, or prices or both.
• Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures: These are measures that are applied to protect
human or animal life from risks arising from: additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-
causing organisms in food.
• Technical Barriers to Trade: These are measures referring to technical regulations, and
procedures for assessment of conformity with technical regulations and standards.

About UNESCAP:
• The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the
regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.
• It has 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members from Asia-Pacific Region including India.
• It serves as the UN ‘s regional hub promoting cooperation among countries to achieve
inclusive and sustainable development.

About UNCTAD:
• UNCTAD is a permanent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations General
Assembly in 1964.
• It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and part of the UN Secretariat.
• It was formed specifically to handle the problems of developing countries dealing with trade,
investment and development issues.

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45. INDIA INNOVATION INDEX

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-


technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property
rights.
Context:
• NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner has released the India
Innovation Index 2019.

About the Index:


• The index examines the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and union territories.
• The index has been developed on the lines of the Global Innovation Index (GII).
• It is expected to help the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and Union Territories (UTs) to
design policies to drive innovation across regions.
• The index performs the following three functions
• (a) ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores
• (b)recognizing opportunities and challenges and
• (c) assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation.

About the Parameters:


The Index is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and
Performance.
• The Enablers are the factors that underpin innovative capacities.
• They are grouped into five pillars: (1) Human Capital (2) Investment (3) Knowledge Workers
(4) Business Environment and (5) Safety and Legal Environment.
• The Performance dimension captures benefits that a nation derives from the inputs.

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• It is divided into two pillars (6)


Knowledge Output and (7) Knowledge
Diffusion.

Highlights:
• The index has bifurcated the states
into three categories (a) major states,
(b)north-east and hill states and
(c)union territories/city states/small
states.
• There is a west-south and north-east
divide across the country.
• The top ten major states are majorly concentrated in southern and western India.
• Karnataka has emerged topper in the overall rankings in the category of major states with
Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra in the second and third positions.
• Karnataka’s top position is partly attributed to its top rank in the Performance dimension.
• Maharashtra performs the best in the dimension of Enablers.
• This implies that it has the best enabling environment for innovation even though the state
comes in at the third position in the overall innovation index.
• Among the North-Eastern states and Union territories, Sikkim and Delhi occupy the top spots
respectively.
• Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh are the most
efficient states in translating inputs into output.
• Bihar, Jharkhand, and Punjab were the least attractive states for investment.

About GII:
• The global innovation index (GII) is an annual ranking that quantifies the state of national
innovation ecosystem across countries. In 2019, it has ranked 129 countries based on 80
indicators.
• The GII is co-published by World intellectual property organisation (WIPO), Cornell University
and INSEAD.
• India has improved its ranking by five places to 52nd in 2019 from 57th position in 2018.
• India has also outperformed on innovation relative to its GDP per capita for nine consecutive
years.

46. INDIA TO SPEND USD 1.4


TRILLION ON INFRASTRUCTURE IN NEXT FIVE YEARS

Topic: Indian Economy.


Context:
• Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, as part of its goal to become a USD 5 trillion
economy by 2024, India plans to spend USD 1.4 trillion on its infrastructure in the next five
years.

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• Addressing the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sitharaman said a
task force has been constituted in the finance ministry that will draw up a national
infrastructure pipeline for the next five years.

Background:
• Union Finance Minister said, "As we envisage becoming a five trillion-dollar economy by 2024-
25, our focus on creating world-class infrastructure has become even more resolute. If we
spent USD 1.1 trillion on infrastructure in the last 10 years (2008-17), we now are going to
invest about USD 1.4 trillion in the next five years,".
• India, she said, has taken various steps to enhance infrastructure investment by launching
innovative financial vehicles such as Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs), Real Estate Investment
Trusts (REITs), Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) and laying down a framework for
municipal bonds.

India’s efforts:
• India is already applying Public Private Partnership (PPP) models in the country and adopted
the Asset Recycling model to modernize existing infrastructure, like highways, while providing
government with upfront capital to support new infrastructure.
• India is also trying to develop brownfield assets as a separate asset class for infrastructure
investment.
• Such assets, having passed the stages of land acquisition and environmental and forest
clearances, are considerably de-risked and hence, institutional investment from pension,
insurance and sovereign wealth funds are forthcoming in such assets.
• Another initiative is the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), which is aimed at
channeling investments from both domestic and international sources into infrastructure.

Highlights:
• India's experience with such innovative modes of funding holds an important example in
financing of infrastructure for other developing countries.
• Noting that the rural economy is vital for India, which depends heavily on agriculture, she said
the country has achieved high food grains production but returns in the sector are somewhat
subdued due to a dip in agricultural commodity prices globally and depressed food prices
domestically.
• India is adopting Zero Budget Natural Farming model to promote the use of organic seeds and
natural fertilizers by farmers.
• As part of its goal to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024, India plans to spend USD 1.4
trillion on its infrastructure in the next five years.
• The annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sitharaman said a task force
has been constituted in the finance ministry that will draw up a national infrastructure pipeline
for the next five years.
• India's experience with such innovative modes of funding holds an important example in
financing of infrastructure for other developing countries.
• Noting that the rural economy is vital for India, which depends heavily on agriculture, she said
the country has achieved high food grains production but returns in the sector are somewhat
subdued due to a dip in agricultural commodity prices globally and depressed food prices
domestically.

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47. GOVERNMENT SHOULD REVERSE CUTS ON


CORPORATE TAXES

Topic: Indian Economy.


Context:
• The government should consider reversing the recent corporate tax rate cuts and expand the
PM KISAN scheme to include non-farmers.
• The cut is a huge burden on the fiscal and that money would have been better spent by giving
more through PM KISAN and raising the NREGA wage.
• That could have got money in the hands of those who really will spend it.
• Banerjee along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer was awarded the 2019 Sveriges
Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, popularly called the Nobel
Prize in Economics.

Background:
• Government-issued an ordinance to reduce the corporate tax rate for domestic firms and new
manufacturing units by 10% to 12% points, effectively bringing India’s tax rates on par with its
competing Asian peers.
• The Minister said that the effective tax rate for domestic corporates, inclusive of surcharges,
will fall from 34.94% to 25.17% if they stop availing any other tax sops.
• For new manufacturing firms set up after October 2019 and commencing operations by March
2023, the effective tax rate will fall from 29.1% to 17%.

Need to cut taxes:

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• The corporate tax cut one among the several steps taken by the government to tackle the
slowdown in economic growth, which has dropped for five consecutive quarters to 5% in the
June quarter.
• The most immediate reason behind the tax cut may be the displeasure that various corporate
houses have shown against the budget in July and government policies.
• The lower corporate tax main objective is to boost investment by the private sector.
• The focus on boosting private sector investment stems from the fact that depressed
consumption by private individuals and a decline in investment by private businesses were
identified as the two main reasons for the continuing deceleration of the Indian economy.
• The two other factors that could have incentivized the economy – government expenditure
and exports cannot be depended upon due to this financial year fiscal deficit and global
economic climate respectively.
• So, the cut in corporate tax has been chosen as the solution to increasing private investment.
• The government hopes that the rate cut will make the existing and new businesses more
attractive to invest and increase production thus creating more employment.

About the Impacts:


• The tax cut will put more money in the hands of the private sector and can offer people more
incentive to produce and contribute to the economy.
• The present cut in taxes can make India more competitive on the global stage by making Indian
corporate tax rates comparable to that of rates in East Asia.
• The tax cut, however, is expected to cause a yearly revenue loss of 1.45 lakh crore to the
government which is struggling to meet its fiscal deficit target.
• At the same time, if it manages to sufficiently revive the economy, the present tax cut can help
boost tax collections and compensate for the loss of revenue.

Highlights:
• Some see the present tax cut simply as a concession to corporate houses rather than as a
structural reform that could boost the wider economy.
• They believe that the current economic slowdown is due to the problem of insufficient
demand which cannot be addressed just through tax cuts and instead advocate greater
government spending to boost the economy.
• Others, however, argue that lackluster demand faced by sectors like automobiles is merely
a symptom of supply-side shocks such as the goods and services tax that have affected various
businesses and caused job losses.
• If so, tax cuts and other supply-side reforms can indeed help the economy recover from its
slump.
• However, the government will also need to simultaneously enact along with these tax cuts
other structural reforms that reduce entry barriers in the economy and make the marketplace
more competitive.

48. GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES BHIM 2.0 WITH NEW


FUNCTIONALITIES, ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE SUPPORT

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Topic: Indian Economy.


Context:
• Union Minister of Electronics and
Information Technology (MeiTY) has
launched BHIM 2.0 with additional
features.
• Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is
Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
based payment interface application
that allows real time fund transfer.

About BHIM:
• The app has been launched in 2016.
• It was developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
• The BHIM 2.0 supports three additional languages-Konkani, Haryanvi and Bhojpuri, over and
above existing13.
• The existing cap of Rs. 20,000 has also been increased to Rs. 1,00,000, from verified merchants.
• The app has also added features such as (a) linking multiple bank accounts (b)offers from
merchants and(c)gifting money among others.

About UPI:
• Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single
mobile application of any participating bank.
• The interface has been developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
• It merges several banking features, seamless fund routing& merchant payments into one
hood.
• It also caters to the Peer to Peer collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per
requirement and convenience.

49. MeitY START-UP SUMMIT

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of


resources, growth, development and employment.
Context:
• Ministry of Electronics & Information (MeitY) has unveiled a series of new initiatives during the
first MeitY Start-up Summit held in New Delhi.

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• The initiatives include the MeitY Startup Hub (MSH), the Indian Software Product Registry and
select Incubation Centres under the TIDE 2.0.

About the hub:


• It will act as a platform to connect with incubators, accelerators, mentors, and eventually,
angel funds and venture capitalists
• It will be a single-window portal for cataloguing all companies and products developed in India
with key analytics, category-wise listing and options to port the database to the Government
e-Marketplace (GeM) for enhanced market access.

About TIDE Scheme:


• TIDE scheme was launched in 2008
• It is being implemented by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
• The scheme aims to assist institutions of higher learning to strengthen their Technology
Incubation Centers and enable young entrepreneurs to initiate technology startup companies
for commercial exploitation of technologies developed by them.
• The TIDE 2.0 will be aimed at
strengthening close to 2,000
technology startups in areas
of national concern, by
leveraging emerging
technologies and
empowering 51 incubation
centres across the country.

50. GOVERNMENT e-MARKETPLACE

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,


e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;
citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other
measures.
Context:
• The government e-Marketplace (GeM) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
with Federal Bank to offer different services including the transfer of funds.

About GeM:
• Government e Marketplace is an online marketplace setup in 2016 for procurement of
commonly used goods and services by government ministries, departments and CPSEs.
• It aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.

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• It is a National Procurement Portal of India.It functions under Directorate General of Supplies


and Disposals (DGS&D), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

About benefits from GeM:


• GeM eliminates human interface in vendor registration, order placement and payment
processing to a great extent.
• Direct purchase on GeM can be done in a matter of minutes and the entire process online,
end to end integrated with online tools for assessing price reasonability.
• GeM is a completely secure platform and all the documents on GeM are e-Signed at various
stages by the buyers and sellers.
• Transparency, efficiency and ease of use of the GeM portal has resulted in a substantial
reduction in prices on GeM.

51. A STUDY ON “EMERGING


EMPLOYMENT PATTERNS OF 21ST CENTURY IN INDIA”

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context:
• A study commissioned by PM Council noted that in an indication of shrinking options
informal employment and stalled labour reforms, it’s the organised sector in India which has
begun to increasingly non-contractual employment between 2012 and 2018.

About the study:


• The study commissioned by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on
“Emerging Employment Patterns of 21st Century India”.
• The study looks at employment data from three comparable surveys of the National Sample
Survey Organisation (NSSO)-
o The Employment-Unemployment Surveys of 2004-05
o The Employment-Unemployment Surveys of 2011-12
o The Period Labour Force Survey of 2017-18

About the findings:


• The study found that it is the organized sector in India which has begun to increasingly non-
contractual employment between 2012 and 2018.
• Since 2012, Organised sector employed 2.44 crore on non-contractual terms and 2.65 crore
on contractual terms.
• In 2018, however, the respective numbers were 3.61 crore and 2.80 crore.
• The study also found that since 2004, the rate of population growth has been almost twice
the rate of growth in jobs.
• The study finds that not only the rate of employment growth over this period is far slower
than the rate of population growth (1.7 per cent), most of the employment generated is of
casual nature.

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Reasons behind:
• Under “non-contractual
Employments’, Employers not only
pays less money for the same
amount of work but also provides
little by way of security of job or
work conditions.
• For long, the economy’s growth and
its ability to create jobs have been
victims of inflexible labour laws that
make it difficult for firms to hire and
fire contingent on economic
conditions.
o Structural hurdles: The
structural hurdle
reflected in most of
employment being
restricted to the unorganised sector and on non-contractual terms.
o Inflexibility of the Indian Labour Law: One obvious explanation for businesses
preferring casual labour over formal contracts is the inflexibility of Indian labour
laws.
o Stringent Labour Law: Stringent labour laws not only make it difficult to hire and
fire employees depending on the economic situation but also make it costly.

52. EASE OF DOING BUSINESS – IMPLEMENTATION OF


RFID BASED PORT ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM

Topic: Indian Economy.

Context:
• Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) inaugurates Ease of Doing Business-Implementation of RFID based
Port Access Control System at Kolkata Dock System.

Background:
• As part of the green wall project, the trust has also inaugurated CCTV operations at KDS,
Rabindra Setu (Howrah Bridge) and dedicated 3 Truck Parking Terminals at KDS.
• The project of RFID-based Port Access Control System (PACS) was undertaken for Kolkata Dock
System (Netaji Subhas Dock, NSD and Kidderpore Dock, KPD) at a total cost of around 17 Crore.
• Under this project, 12 gates of NSD and KPD are equipped with RFID based PACS system. RFID
devices have been installed at all gates of NSD.

About it’s working:

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• The system will secure the systematic entry and exit of vehicles and visitors in Kolkata Dock
System (NSD and KPD) and for ease of doing business with Port users.
• RFID based Port Access Control System (PACS) will provide a single-window system to the Port
users for obtaining permit/ pass through 100% cashless transaction.
• The operational efficiency of KDS will also be increased due to system driven gate operation.
• It also eases out road congestion near the port.

About it’s functions:


• Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and
track tags attached to objects.
• The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby
RFID reader’s interrogating radio waves.
• Using this system, authorization of personnel is carried out with an RFID card and only those
with access can enter a secured area.
• For this reason automatic identification and access control system has become necessary to
overcome the security threats faced by many organisations.

About the report of World Bank:


• In the World Bank report Doing Business 2019, India jumped 23 spots to rank 77 on Ease of
Doing Business.
• Currently, 92 percent of India’s import-export trade by volume is handled at ports, and the
report highlights India’s on-going reform agenda which has included upgrading port
infrastructure and digitization.
• The report entailed that India’s major ports have experienced over five percent average
growth over the last four years.
• In this case, the report recommended for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems.’
• The report emphasized to installed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems in 11 major
ports to enhance security and remove traffic bottlenecks at port gates.

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53. EASE OF DOING BUSINESS LEAP CREDITABLE

Topic: Indian Economy.


Context:
• Calling for more
“openness to
reform” and
specific reforms
such as more local
courts, setting up a
fast-track
commercial
dispute resolution
mechanism, land
data digitisation
and contract
enforcement
protections, World
Bank President says
India must focus on
structural improvements to improve its growth rate.

Background:
• India is being affected by the global environment and has slowed from the fast growth rates in
over a year.
• India’s ranking in the World Bank’s annual “Ease of Doing Business” leaped from 140 in 2014
to 63 in the latest ranking.
Highlights:
• The President said that the government’s moves to liberalise procedures for registering
businesses, facilitating more cross-border trade, bankruptcy resolution and in the construction
process, with the boost in rankings.
• The World Bank President praised the government’s recent move to cut corporate tax rates,
but cautioned that many more steps are required for India to attract investment into
manufacturing.
• Other countries in Asia have done pretty well, and a country’s competitiveness is a
combination of factors.
• It is partly the ease of doing business, but there are many other factors like macro-economic
stability, skills of the workforce etc in order for companies to come here and invest.

54. SMART CITIES MISSION AND AMRUT

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Topic: Population and


associated issues, poverty
and developmental issues,
urbanization, their
problems and their
remedies.

Context:
• The second round of the Smart
Cities Mission and the Atal
Mission for Rejuvenation and
Urban Transformation
(AMRUT) were being considered and could be rolled out in 2020.

About Smart Cities Mission:


• Smart Cities Mission was launched in 2015.
• It aims to develop 100 smart cities across the country by 2022making them citizen friendly
and sustainable.
• The objective is to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure
and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and
application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
• The Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs is implementing the mission in collaboration with
the state governments of the respective cities.
• The first round of the Smart Cities Mission that covers 100 cities would be 50% complete that
is 50 cities by December, 2019.

About AMRUT:
• AMRUT stands for Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation.
• The mission was launched in 2015.
• The mission is aimed at transforming 500 cities and towns into efficient urban living spaces
over a period of five years.
• The mission seeks to provide basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban
transport, parks to improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the
disadvantaged.
• The focus of the mission is also on infrastructure creation that has a direct link to provision of
better services to the citizens.

55. UDAN SCHEME

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context:

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• The government is planning to soon award fresh routes under its regional connectivity scheme
Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN).

About UDAN scheme:


• UDAN scheme was launched in 2016 to make air travel affordable through subsidised tickets
and to provide its access to smaller towns.
• The Scheme is a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was
launched in June 2016.
• The idea behind the scheme is to jump-start the regional aviation market by improving
profitability of under developed regional routes.
• Under the scheme, the government offers incentives to airlines to flag off new flights to
neglected smaller cities and towns by providing Viability gap funding to make these operations
profitable.

Significance:
• The scheme is first-of-its-kind that aims to create affordable yet economically viable and
profitable flights on regional routes.
• The scheme gives India’s aviation sector a boost by giving chance to small and first-time
operators to be part of the rapid growth in passenger traffic.
• The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas and will
enhance trade and commerce and tourism expansion.
• Airport operators will also see their business expanding as would original equipment
manufacturers.

Challenges:
• Infrastructure bottlenecks have led to lower the pace in implementation of the scheme.
• Some airports owned by State governments and private players have been hesitant in
participating because of low profiting making.

56. SCHOOL EDUCATION QUALITY INDEX (SEQI)

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:
• NITI Aayog has released the first edition of the School Education Quality Index (SEQI).

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• SEQI has been developed by NITI Aayog to evaluate the performance of States and
Union Territories (UTs) in the school education sector.

About SEQI:
• It has been developed through a collaborative process including key stakeholders such
as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the World Bank and sector
experts.
• SEQI aims to drive policy reforms that will improve the quality of school education.
• The index seeks to institutionalise a focus on enhancing education outcomes by driving
improvements in learning levels, access, equity, infrastructure and governance
processes.
• SEQI is based on a set of 30 critical indicators that measure the overall effectiveness,
quality and efficiency of the Indian school education system.
• The indicators are categorized into (a)Outcomes and (b)Governance Processes Aiding
Outcomes(GPAO).
• The Outcomes include (a)learning outcomes (b)access outcomes, (c)infrastructure and
facilities for outcomes and (d)equity outcomes,
• GPAO includes (a)support system necessary for learning to take place like training and
availability of teachers (b)attendance of students and teachers (c)administrative
adequacy (d)training (d)accountability and (e)transparency.

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57. PRADHAN MANTRI INNOVATIVE LEARNING


PROGRAMME (PMILP) – ‘DHRUV’

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various


sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context:
• Union Human Resource Development Minister will launch the Pradhan Mantri Innovative
Learning Programme- ‘DHRUV’ from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 10thOctober,
2019.

About Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme- ‘DHRUV’:


• The programme is named DHRUV after the Pole Star with the same name. Every student
selected under this programme will be called as ‘Dhruv Tara’.
• The programme aims at identifying and encouraging talented children to enrich their skills and
knowledge.
• Under this programme, the
identified children will be
mentored and nurtured by
renowned experts in centres
of excellence across the
country in different areas so
that they can reach their full
potential.

About the programme:


• The program will cover two
areas namely (a) Science and
(b) Performing Arts.
• There will be 60 students
selected under this
programme.
• The students will be broadly
from classes 9 to 12 from all schools including government and private.
• This is only the first phase of the programme which will be expanded gradually to other fields
like creative writing among others.

58. MAHATMA GANDHI NATIONAL FELLOWSHIP (MGNF)


PROGRAMME

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

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Context:
• The Ministry of Skill
Development and
Entrepreneurship (MSDE)
has signed a contract with
Indian Institute of
Management (IIM)-
Bangalore to launch a new
programme ‘Mahatma
Gandhi National Fellowship
(MGNF)’.
• The program aims to
address the challenge of
non- availability of
personnel for implementation of various programmes at national, state and district levels.

About the programme:


• The two-year Fellowship programme will be delivered by IIMB’s Centre of Public Policy (CPP).
• CPP is an independent public interest-oriented policy think-tank engaged in research, teaching,
training, and capacity-building.
• Those who have a graduate degree from a recognised university and are citizens of India in the
age group of 21-30 years will be eligible to apply for it.

Features of the programme:


• The programme will identify and train a group of young, committed and dynamic individuals
who will use the IIMB ecosystem to work with the district administration in strengthening the
process of skilling to create a vibrant local district economy.
• It will be launched on a pilot basis in 75 districts in 6 states including Gujarat, Karnataka,
Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
• It has been designed under Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood
Promotion (SANKALP).

About SANKALP:
• SANKALP is an outcome-oriented programme of Ministry of Skills Development &
Entrepreneurship (MSDE) with a special focus on decentralised planning and quality
improvement.
• The project is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and is implemented in mission mode through World
Bank support.
• The project aims to implement the mandate of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM).
• The main objectives of SANKALP include
• (a)Institutional Strengthening (at National, State & District level)
• (b) Quality Assurance of skill development programs
• (c) Inclusion of marginalised population in skill development and
• (d) Expanding Skills through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

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59. PRIME MINISTER’S SPECIAL SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME FOR


JAMMU AND KASHMIR

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context:
• Nearly 4,500 students from Jammu and Kashmir
have reported at colleges across the country to
pursue undergraduate studies under the Prime
Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) —
the highest in six years.

About the scheme:


• Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme
(PMSSS) was launched in 2011. The scheme is
under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
• The aim is to encourage the youth from Jammu &
Kashmir to pursue higher education in educational
institutions outside the state.
• It is a merit-based programme that offers
admission to J&K students in colleges, institutes
and universities across the country and pays for their tuition, board, books and other incidentals.
• The scheme envisages to provide 5000 fresh scholarships every year (4500 for General, 250 for
Engineering and 250 for Medical studies).

60. EFFECT OF MOTHER’S EDUCATION ON CHILD’S


NUTRITIONAL STATUS

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.
Context:
• The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNSS) has shown a direct correlation between
mothers’ education and the well-being of children.
• With higher levels of schooling in a mother, children received better diets.

About the facts:


• Only 11.4% of children of mothers with no schooling received adequately diverse meals, while
31.8% whose mothers finished Class XII received diverse meals.
• 3.9% of children whose mothers had zero schooling got minimum acceptable diets, whereas this
was at 9.6% for children whose mothers finished schooling.

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• Further, 7.2% of children


in the former category
consumed iron rich food,
whereas this was at
10.3% for children in the
latter category.
• Only 49.8% of children in
2-4 age group whose
mothers did not go to
school consumed dairy
products, while 80.5% of
children of mothers who
completed their
schooling did so.
• Levels of stunting, wasting and low weight were higher in children whose mothers received no
schooling as opposed to those who studied till Class XII.
• Anaemia saw a much higher prevalence of 44.1% among children up to four years old with
mothers who never went to school, versus 34.6% among those who completed their schooling.

About Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNSS):


• It the first ever survey of its kind.
• The survey has been conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the United
Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to measure malnutrition.
• It studied 1.2 lakh children between 2016 and 2018 and measured food consumption,
anthropometric data, micronutrients, anaemia, iron deficiency and markers of non-
communicable diseases.

61. VIGYAN JYOTI

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.
Context:
• Government is planning a programme called Vigyan Jyoti to help girl students inculcate interest
in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
• The programme is to be launched in the backdrop of low percentage of women in Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Background:
• The data shows that females comprised 24% of the total pass-out students in STEM subjects in
engineering, 22% at the postgraduate level, 28% at M Phil and 35% at the PhD level.
About Vigyan Jyoti:
• The programme aims to tap 100 girl students in 550 districts from 2020-2025.

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• The programme comes


under the aegis of the
Department of Science &
Technology (DST).
• The programme will cover
girl students from grade 9 to
12.
• It will choose students based
on their percentile.
• The programme will help girl
students inculcate interest in
Science, Technology,
Engineering and
Mathematics (STEM).
• The programme also has financial dimension.
• The girls will be given a modest financial incentive to cover their additional expenses like travel
to camps.
• It will also include holding science camps for the girl students in nearby IITs, NITs and national
laboratories.

62. QS INDIAN UNIVERSITY RANKINGS

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context:
• The QS Indian University Rankings has been released.
• This is the second edition of the standalone rankings for India’s higher education institutions.
• The rankings include public, private, higher education or deemed universities.

About the Methodology:


The methodology used eight indicators to determine the institutions’ rankings. These were
• academic reputation (weight of 30%),
• employer reputation (20%)
• faculty-student ratio (20%)
• the proportion of staff with a PhD (10%)
• papers per faculty from Scopus database (10%)
• citations per paper from Scopus database (5%)
• the proportion of international students (2.5%)and
• the proportion of international faculty (2.5%)

About the rankings:

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• The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) dominate the list with seven IITs figuring in the top ten
rankings.
• IIT-Bombay was ranked first followed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and IIT-Delhi.
• Further,Delhi University, University of Hyderabad and the Indian Institute of Science are the only
other non-IIT institutions in the top ten.

63. MONT BLANC

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.

Context:
• Experts have warned that a section of the Planpincieux glacier on the iconic Mont Blanc in
Italy is at the risk of collapsing.
• The Mont Blanc glacier is Western Europe’s highest mountain range.

About Mont Blanc:

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• It
has
11

peaks above 4,000m in France and Italy and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every
year.
• The border between Italy and France passes through the summit of Mont Blanc making it both
French and Italian.
• The rising global temperatures are causing the melting of mountain glaciers and the retreat of
polar ice sheets.

64. UNUSUAL MOVEMENT OF


MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES CAUSING A FLUTTER

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• The butterfly named Himalayan tailless bushblue (Arhopala ganesa ganesa) was known to
occur at an altitude between 1,300 m to 2,400 m in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
• Recent studies however, have located the species at 3,577 m in Askot Wildlife Sanctuary in
Uttarakhand, at least 1,200 m higher than it’s known range.

Background:
• An upward habitat shift has also been found for the blue baron (Euthalia telchinia), a butterfly
species protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
• While earlier it was known to be found at an altitude of 1,500 m in the central Himalayas,
north-east India and the Western Ghats, researchers recorded it at 2,100 m at Neora Valley
National Park, West Bengal.

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Highlights:
• In the case of some species of moth, a similar uphill movement of habitat was recorded.
• The Trachea auriplena — described from Sri Lanka at about 300 m altitude — was recorded
at 3,100 m in the Valley of Flowers National Park (Uttarakhand), an unusual occurrence for
the species.
• Another moth
species Diphtherocome
fasciata was recorded at
3,300 m in the Govind
Wildlife Sanctuary
(Uttarakhand), at least
2,200 m higher than its
previous range.
• These occurrences have
come to light in a
publication titled
‘Assemblages
Of Lepidoptera in selected
protected areas across
Indian Himalaya through long- term ecological monitoring’ released during the 6th Asian
Lepidoptera Conservation Symposium organised in Kolkata.
• The volume, published by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), is a result of three years of study
across 175 long-term ecological monitoring plots across six Himalayan regions, from the cold
deserts of Ladakh to the tropical evergreen forests of Arunachal Pradesh.

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65. SWACHH BHARAT MISSION

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various


sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context:
• The Prime Minister declared the nation ‘open defecation free’ on Gandhi Jayanti claiming
success for the government’s initiative under which every household now apparently has
access to a toilet.

Achievements of the mission:


• Swachh Bharat Mission- Gramin has been successful in the construction of 10,07,67,960
toilets since 2 October 2014.
• 5,99,963 villages in 699 districts have been declared Open Defecation Free (100%).
• 63.3% of the rural population is practicing SLWM (Solid and Liquid Waste Management).
• Under Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban 60,01,210 individual household toilets have been
constructed in 4,163 urban local bodies (ULBs).
• 5,48,971 community and public toilets have also been constructed.
• 79,139 wards in ULBs where 100% door-to-door collection of municipal solid waste is taking
place.

Challenges Involved:
• Physical – Ground verification has shown that number of toilets built may be reported in
excess by authorities to meet their targets.
o More independent verification methods need to be put in place to ensure that
physical infrastructure is present. Also, several twin-pit toilets have not been
constructed properly defeating their purpose of waste management.
• Social – Due to the lack of proper SLWM, several manual scavengers are still employed, even
by the Government even though the practice has been banned.
o There is also the issue of ‘slip
back’, where the people who
have started using the toilets
may slip back to open
defecation based on various
internal and external
triggers.
• Environmental – The disposal of
waste continues to be a challenge for
both rural and urban communities
and unplanned disposal can lead to soil, water and air pollution.

66. C 40 SUMMIT

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Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact Assessment.

Context:
• Chief Minister of
Delhi will be
among 20 leaders
from megacities
around the world
to launch the
‘Clean Air Cities
Declaration’, a set
of short and long-
term
commitments
towards cleaning
the air, during the
C40 Summit in Copenhagen.

Background:
• The Delhi government will endorse the declaration and pledge to reduce emissions and air
pollution in a set time frame on October 11 at the Tivoli Conference Centre in Copenhagen.
• The summit will be held from October 9-12.

About C 40:
• C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.
• C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful,
measurable and sustainable action on climate change.
• The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a group of 94 cities around the world that
represents one twelfth of the world’s population and one quarter of the global economy.
• Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action
that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health,
wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens.
• Bengaluru, Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi are part of this network.

67. TIGER RESERVES IN MADHYA PRADESH

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• Madhya Pradesh might soon its seventh tiger reserve — the Ratapani Tiger Reserve.
• The proposed reserve will be carved out of the Ratapani wildlife sanctuary which is spread
over Raisen and Sehore districts.

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About the Tiger Reserves:


• Tiger Reserves are protected area that aim at conserving the habitat to ensure a viable
population of the tigers along with their prey base in their habitat.
• They are established under the Project Tiger.

About Project Tiger:


• India launched Project Tiger in 1973 with an aim to limit factors that leads to reduction of
tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management.
• Jim Corbett in Uttarakhand is the first Tiger Reserve to be established under Project Tiger.
• At present, there are 50 tiger reserves in India.
• Orang Tiger Reserve in Assam is the 49Th tiger reserve and Kamlang Tiger Reserve in
Arunachal Pradesh is the 50th.
• National Tiger Conservation Authority, established in 2005, oversees management of Project
Tiger and Tiger Reserves in India.

About Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh:


There are 6 Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh:
• Kanha Tiger Reserve
• Pench Tiger Reserve
• Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
• Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve
• Bori- Satpura Tiger Reserve
• Panna Tiger Reserve

Highlights:
• According to All India Tiger Estimation Report– 2018,
o Madhya Pradesh has highest number of tigers (526),
o followed by Karnataka (524) and
o Uttarakhand (442).
• Madhya Pradesh is thus called Tiger State of India.
• According to 4th cycle of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves
(MEETR), Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary and Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary has been
designated as best managed Tiger Reserves in India with a score of 93.75%.

68. WILDLIFE WEEK INDIA

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.

Context:
• The Forest department has organised an awareness rally to launch Wildlife Week India.
• The Wildlife Week is celebrated all over the country every year between 2nd October and 8th
October.

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About Wildlife Week:


• The aim of this week is to preserve
animal life in India.
• The event is organized by National
Board of Wildlife since its
establishment in 1972.
• The theme of this year’s event is
“Life below Water: For people and
planet”.
• The events are organized to teach
people about animal life and
encourage them to save a large
number of animals by not killing
them for food and other purposes.

About National Board of Wildlife:


• The NBWL has been constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
• NBWL advises the government on policy and strategy for wildlife conservation.
• It also reviews proposals for non-forestry use of forestland within National Parks and Wildlife
Sanctuaries and issue or deny permissions.
• The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister.
• It also comprises of a Standing Committee headed by Union Environment Minister.
• The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 specifies that the committee should comprise of 10 eminent
ecologists and five NGOs.
• The committee considers the merits of projects that come to it for scrutiny.

69. BHARAT STAGE VI EMISSION NORMS

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.

Context:
• The Country will shift to BS VI vehicular emission norms from BS IV by April 2020.
• BS VI petrol/diesel is already available in Delhi/NCR.

About Bharat Stage Emission Norms:


• The Bharat Stage emission standards are norms instituted by the Government of India to
regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including
motor vehicles. India has been following the European (Euro) emission norms, though with a
time-lag of five years.
• The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel
norms is the presence of sulphur.

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• The newly introduced fuel is estimated to


reduce the amount of sulphur released by
80%, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.
• As per the analysts, the emission of NOx
(nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also
expected to reduce by nearly 70% and 25%
from cars with petrol engines.
• It will involve installation of new
technology like Diesel Particulate Filter
(DPF) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) Reduction Technology.

70. GANGA AAMANTRAN ABHIYAN

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.

Context:
• Ganga Aamantran Abhiyan is a pioneering and historic exploratory open-water rafting and
kayaking expedition on the Ganga River to be held between 10th October 2019 to 11
November 2019.

Highlights:
• Starting at Devprayag and culminating at Ganga Sagar, the expedition will cover the entire
stretch of over 2500 kms of the Ganga River.

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• This is the first ever effort by National Mission for Clean Ganga to raft across the entire stretch
of the river and also the longest ever social campaign undertaken through an adventure
sporting activity to spread the message of River Rejuvenation and Water Conservation on a
massive scale.

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71. GRADED RESPONSE ACTION PLAN (GRAP)

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental


impact assessment.

Context:
• Starting October 15, some stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi’s
neighbourhood, as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
• In pursuant with Supreme Court’s order in the M. C. Mehta vs. Union of India (2016) regarding
air quality in National Capital Region of Delhi, the Graded Response Action Plan was notified by
MoEFCC in 2017.

About GRAP:
• Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) is a
set of stratified actions that are taken
once the pollution level reaches a certain
specified limit.
• It works only as an emergency measure.
• Under GRAP, there are 4 stages of
pollution – Moderate to Poor, Very Poor,
Severe and Severe+ or Emergency and
action are listed that need to be undertaken as the levels are breached.
• The categories have been made on the basis of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the atmosphere.
• The GRAP is implemented by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

About EPCA:
• It is a Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution
in Delhi NCR.
• It was constituted in 1998 under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

72. PANGIO BHUJIA

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• Researchers from Kerala have discovered a new species of eel-loach named ‘Pangio bhujia’ in
Kozhikode district of state.
• The species has been named ‘Pangio bhujia’ due to its resemblance to the North Indian snack,
bhujia.
• It belongs to genus Pangio.
About Pangio Bhujia:
• Pangio Bhujia is a unique species of miniature well-dwelling subterranean fish.

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• It is the first species of eel-loach in the world


that has been discovered to be living in
subterranean environments.
• Eel-loaches are generally found in fast-
flowing streams in the south and the south-
east Asia.

Highlights:
• It is approximately 3 centimetres long and
pinkish-red in colour.
• It resides in purest waters of deep subterranean aquifers.
• It has several unique characters including absence of dorsal fin which has never been encountered
in genus Pangio to which this new species belongs.

73. PLASTIC POLLUTION IN GREAT NICOBAR ISLAND

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• A survey of five beaches in the Great Nicobar islands have recorded the presence of plastics.
• The study was published in the journal Current Science.

About the Survey findings:


• About 10 countries including India contributed to the plastic litter in the island. They were
Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, China
and Japan.
• Major portion of the litter (40.5%) was of Malaysian origin.
• It was followed by Indonesia (23.9%) and Thailand (16.3%).
• The litter of Indian origin only amounted to 2.2%.
• The contribution from Indonesia and Thailand was likely due to its proximity to the island.
• The plastic is likely to have made its way to the island because of water currents via the
Malacca Strait, which is a major shipping route.

About Great Nicobar Islands:


• Great Nicobar is the southernmost and largest of the Nicobar Islands of India.
• The island of Sumatra is located 180 km to the south of Great Nicobar.
• It has an area of about 1044 sq. km.
• According to the 2011 census, has a population of about 8,069.
• The island is home to one of the most primitive tribes of India — the Shompens.
• The island includes the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (GNBR) comprising of the Galathea
National Park and the Campbell Bay National Park.
• Indira point in the Great Nicobar Island is the southernmost point of India’s territory.

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74. PETROLEUM AND EXPLOSIVE


SAFETY ORGANISATION (PESO)

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• The Diwali be less polluted this year due to unavailability of crackers because of strict
certification norms by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).

About PESO:
• Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) is
a statutory authority.
• It comes under the Department for the Promotion of
Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of
Commerce and Industry.
• It is the apex department to control and administer
manufacture, storage, transport and handling of
explosives, petroleum, compressed gases and other
hazardous substances in India.
• It is entrusted with the responsibilities under the (a)
Explosives Act, 1884, (b)Petroleum Act, 1934
(c)Inflammable Substances Act,1952 and
(d)Environment (Protection Act),1986.
• The Organization is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives with its headquarters located at
Nagpur (Maharashtra).

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75. CENTRE CLARIFIES ON DEFINITION OF FOREST

Topic: Environmental Conservation, Sustainable Development, and EIA.

Context:
• States claim they are helpless in preventing encroachment because a patch of land hadn’t been
classified as a forest.
• The States need not take the Centre’s approval to define what constitutes unclassified land as
forest, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the environment ministry, comprising independent
experts and officials in the Centre’s forestry division, has clarified.

Background:
• Since 2014, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has been
considering evolving a legal definition of forest and reportedly prepared drafts as late as 2016.
• These, however, have never been made public and the FAC's clarification officially signifies an end
to such efforts.
• The freedom to define land, not already classified as forests by the Centre or state records, as
forest has been the prerogative of the States since 1996 and stems from a Supreme Court order
called the Godavarman judgement.

About the clause:


• The FAC, the apex body that deliberates on granting permission to industry to fell forests, at a
meeting on September 26, said “... States, having well established forest departments, are in a
better position, rather than MoEF&CC, to understand their own forests and needs, and should
frame criteria for their forests... criteria so finalised by a state need not be subject to approval by
MoEF&CC”.
• The subject came up for discussion at the meeting because the Uttarakhand government had
put forth a set of criteria defining forest land and asked the ministry for it's opinion, the minutes
of the meeting noted.
• The conundrum of defining forests has been around since the 1980s.
• The 1996 Supreme Court judgement expanded the definition of forest to include lands that were
already notified by the Centre as forests, that appear in government records as forests as well as
those that fell in the “dictionary definition” of forest.
• The latter clause allows the States to evolve their own criteria and define tracts of land as forest,
and these would then be bound by forest conservation laws.

Highlights:
• Forests defined under this criteria, according to him, constituted about 1% of the country’s
forests and once so defined would be known as 'deemed forests.'
• An all-encompassing definition of 'forest' wasn't possible for India, because the country had 16
different kinds of forest.
• A tract of grassland in one State might qualify in one region as forest, but not in another.
• However, once a State applied a criteria, it couldn't be reversed.

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• The onus on the States to define forests


is also significant, environmentalists have
pointed out, because the States often
claim that they are helpless in preventing
encroachment because a patch of land in
question hadn't been notified as forest.
• A recent instance was the felling of trees
in Mumbai's Aarey Colony, which
officially isn't classified as 'forest.'

76. NATIONAL TIGER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY (NTCA)

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has red-flagged the Madhya Pradesh
government’s move to increase tourism activities inside the state’s tiger reserves.
• The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment,
Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,
1972.

Objectives:
• Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal.
• Fostering accountability of Center-State in the management of Tiger Reserves by providing a basis
for MoU with States within our federal structure.
• Providing for an oversight by Parliament.
• Addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.

About the powers and functions:


• To approve the tiger conservation plan prepared by the State Government.
• To evaluate and assess various aspects of sustainable ecology and disallow any ecologically
unsustainable land use such as, mining, industry and other projects within the tiger reserves;
• To provide for management focus and measures for addressing conflicts of man and wild animals .
• To provide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, estimation of
population of tiger among others among others.

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77. SNOW LEOPARD

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental


impact assessment.

Context:
• At the session of Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) programme, as many
as 12 range countries have come together to begin a massive exercise to get the global count of
Snow leopards.
• This will be the first ever survey by India to assess the population of Snow leopard.

About Snow Leopard:


• Snow leopards (Panthera uncial) belong to the family of cats called Felidae.
• The snow leopard’s fur is whitish to gray with black spots on head and neck, but larger rosettes
on the back, flanks and bushy tail.

About it’s habitat:


• Snow leopards are found in 12 range countries.
• The countries are namely Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia,
Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
• China contains as much as 60% of all snow leopard habitat areas.
• In India, snow leopards are found in the high altitude areas above the forested areas above
3000m.
• The states of Jammu and Kashmir,
Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim
and Arunachal Pradesh constitute snow
leopard Habitat range in India.
• Further, they are also the State animal
of Uttarakhand and the National
Heritage Animal of Pakistan.

About it’s conservation status:


• Snow leopards are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
• They are also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered
Species (CITES).
• Government of India has also identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high
altitude Himalayas.

About it’s protection programme:


• Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme is launched for its protection.
• It is a joint initiative of range country governments, international agencies, civil society, and the
private sector.
• Its goal is to secure the long-term survival of the snow leopard in its natural ecosystem.

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• It also seeks to address high-mountain development issues using the conservation of the snow
leopard as a flagship.

78. SMALLEST OZONE HOLE IN DECADES

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• During September and October months of 2019, the ozone hole over the Antarctic has been the
smallest observed since 1982.
• Ozone is made up of three oxygen atoms which occurs naturally in small amounts.
• It is a part of the stratosphere which extends 10 to 40kms above earth’s surface.

About Ozone:
• Ozone layer acts as a sunscreen by shielding the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
• On the other hand, close to the surface, ozone created as a byproduct of pollution can trigger
health problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
• Ozone-depleting gases like
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs),HCFCs,
halons, destroy this protective shield and
causes the hole in the ozone.
• Each spring over Antarctica, atmospheric
ozone is destroyed by chemical
processes.
• This creates the ozone hole which occurs
because of special meteorological and
chemical conditions that exist in that
region.

About the hole shrinking:


• The presence of abnormal weather patterns in the atmosphere over Antarctica is responsible for
shrinkage of the ozone hole.
• In warmer temperatures like in 2019, fewer polar stratospheric clouds were formed which limited
the ozone-depletion process.
• However, the shrinking of the ozone hole is not a sign of a recovery of atmospheric ozone but the
result of the temporary warming of Antarctica.

79. HOW GREEN ARE DEEPAVALI CRACKERS?

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.

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Context:
• Last October, in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India mandated the use of green
crackers for Deepavali, prescribing specific norms for the manufacture.

Background:
• This year, for the first time, ‘green crackers’ have been made available in markets, though the
reach has been limited.
• These are milder avatars of traditional firecrackers in terms of the sound and smoke generated
when burnt.
• The Supreme Court had banned the use of barium nitrate, a key pollutant in crackers.
• The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a part of the Council of
Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), was asked to facilitate the development of green
crackers.

About Green Crackers:


• Traditionally, firecrackers have been made with barium nitrate, antimony and a range of metals
that, over the years, have been linked to respiratory diseases and even cancer.
• The Nagpur-based NEERI eventually hit upon formulations that substituted barium nitrate with
potassium nitrate and zeolite.
• The ‘green’ versions of the ‘flower pot’, one of the most popular fireworks, has a mixture of
water and lime that is chemically stored in the cracker.
• When lit, the effulgence also triggers water and the makers claim that the moisture wets the
dust-and-smoke particles.
• NEERI claims that tests in its laboratories have seen a reduction of nearly 30%
in particulate matter (PM) and also reduced a release of sulphur dioxide and
nitrous oxide emissions.
• Green sparklers use 32% potassium nitrate, 40% aluminium powder, 11% aluminium chips, and
17% “proprietary additives” to reduce particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5 to 30%.
• Similarly, a new formulation of a ‘bomb’ named ‘SWAS’ (or safe water releaser) uses 72% of a
“proprietary additive”, 16% potassium nitrate oxidiser, 9% aluminium powder, and 3% sulphur
to reduce PM10 and PM2.5.
• On its website, NEERI claims that green crackers when exploded also emit similar levels of sound
(100-10dBA) associated with traditional crackers.

80. NELLOPTODES GRETAE

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• A tiny species of beetle discovered more than 50 years ago has been named after Swedish climate
activist Greta Thunberg.

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Background:
• Scientists have officially named Nelloptodes
gretae after Greta Thunberg to honour her
contribution in raising global awareness of climate
change.
• The species belongs to the family of beetles called
Ptiliidae.
• The beetle has no eyes or wings.
• It is less than 1mm long.

Highlights:
• Despite their global distribution, the beetle are not particularly well known because of their
miniature size.
• The beetles are usually found in the leaf litter and soil, feeding on fungal hyphae and spores.
• This new species of beetle was first found in 1965 by British naturalist Dr William C Block in Nairobi,
Kenya.

81. 36 MILLION INDIANS FACE FLOOD RISK : STUDY

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.

Context:
• According to a recent study,36 million people in India would face annual flooding by 2050 and 44
million by 2100 if emissions continue to rise.
About the study:
• The study was conducted by the Climate Central study.
• It is a non-profit science and news organisation providing information to help the public and
policymakers make sound decisions about climate and energy.
• The study details findings from individual assessments from 135 countries across multiple climate
scenarios and years.
• The study has used a new software called Coastal DEM to produce enabling neighbourhood level
exploration of threatened areas around the world.

Highlights:
• In India, 36 million people would face annual flooding by 2050 and 44 million by 2100 if emissions
continue to rise unabated.
• Nearly 21 million are expected to be living below the High Tide Line, the boundary that marks the
farthest to which the sea reaches into the land at high tide.
• The six Asian countries namely China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand which
are home to approximately 237 million could experience coastal flooding at least annually by
2050, which is more than four times the estimates based on older elevation data.

About CoastalDEM:

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• CoastalDEM stands for Coastal Digital Elevation Model.


• It is a new software which uses more variables such as vegetation cover, population indices to
estimate the actual land surface affected by floods.
• The estimates of this model relies on detailed maps of the globe taken by the Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission (SRTM) of NASA.
• SRTM was a radar mapping system that travelled aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000.
• The maps so prepared form the basis for determining the elevation of the earth’s topography.

82. ROLE OF VOLCANOES IN GLOBAL


WARMING

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,


environmental impact assessment.
Context:
• All of Earth’s volcanoes are emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) and have played their own role in
warming the planet, despite humanity’s emissions in the past 100 years exceeding them
greatly, experts have said.
• Scientists at the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) have found that even a handful of
volcanic events have caused catastrophic releases of carbon, leading to a warmer
atmosphere, acidified oceans, and mass extinctions.

About DCO:

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• DCO is a 10-year global research collaboration of more than 1,000 scientists to understand
the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon in Earth.
• Researchers from DCO's DECADE (Deep Earth Carbon Degassing) subgroup found that
volcanoes and volcanic regions outgassed (release of trapped gaseous material) an estimated
280-360 million tonnes (0.28 to 0.36 Gigatonnes or Gt) of CO2 per year.
• This includes the contribution from active volcanic vents, from the diffusing and widespread
release of CO2 through soils, faults, and fractures in volcanic regions, volcanic lakes, and from
the mid-ocean ridge system.

Background:
• Contrast that with humanity’s role in producing emissions.
• For the past 100 years, humanity’s annual carbon emissions through the burning of fossil
fuels and forests were 40 to 100 times greater than those from geologic sources such as all
volcanic emissions, said DECADE.
• About 400 of the 1500 volcanoes active since the last Ice Age 11,700 years ago are venting
CO2 today, said DECADE.

Highlights:
• Another 670 could be producing diffuse emissions, with 102 already documented. Of these,
22 ancient volcanoes that have not erupted since the Pleistocene Epoch (2.5 million years
ago to the Ice Age) are outgassing.
• DECADE also confirmed that more than 200 volcanic systems emitted measurable volumes
of CO2 between 2005 and 2017. Of these, several regions of degassing have been
documented. These include Yellowstone in the United States, the East African Rift, and the
Technong volcanic province in China.
• The Earth's total annual outgassing of CO2 via volcanoes and through other geological
processes such as the heating of limestone in mountain belts is estimated by DCO experts at
roughly 300 to 400 million metric tonnes (0.3 to 0.4 Gt).
• The quantity of carbon released from Earth's mantle has been in relative balance, the experts
said, with the quantity returned through the downward subduction of tectonic plates and
other processes.
• However, this balance has been upended about four times over the past 500 million years by
the emergence of large volcanic events — one million or more square kilometres (the area
of Canada) of magma released within a timeframe of a few tens of thousands of years up to
one million years.
• These ‘large igneous provinces’ degassed enormous volumes of carbon (estimated at up to
30,000 Gt — equal to about 70 per cent of the estimated 43,500 gt of carbon above the
surface today).
• Any imbalance to the carbon cycle could cause rapid global warming, changes to the silicate
weathering rate, changes to the hydrologic cycle, and overall rapid habitat changes that
could cause mass extinction as the earth rebalanced itself, the report by the scientists
warned.

83. D28 ICEBERG

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Topic: Climatic Change.


Context:
• A massive iceberg that is
five times the size of Malta
has broken away from
Antarctica.
• The D28 iceberg — which is
1,582 square kilometres —
was captured breaking
away from the Amery Ice
Shelf by the European
Union Earth Observation
Programme.

About the Iceberg:


• It is the biggest iceberg
the shelf has produced in
more than 50 years.
• The size of the iceberg is
such that it may pose a
hazard to shipping lanes
in future, so must be
tracked.
• But scientists have
stressed that not only
had the “calving” of the
iceberg been predicted
for almost two decades, but the D28 is “small relative to some of the largest icebergs
in history.”
• But scientists say that the "calving event is part of a healthy ice shelf cycle" and was
not connected to climate change.

84. NATIONAL MONSOON MISSION

Topic: E-Technology In The Aid Of Farmers.


Context:
• While India this year may have recorded its highest monsoon rain in 25 years, an analysis
suggests that new monsoon models, called the Monsoon Mission Coupled Forecast Model
(CFS), deployed by the IMD over the last decade don’t do better than the older ones in
long-range forecasting.

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Background:
• The Indian summer (southwest) monsoon is referred as lifeline of India, as ariability in any of
its aspects (onset, withdrawal and quantum of
rainfall) greatly influences the agriculture yield,
economy, water resources, power generation and
ecosystem.
• Hence, if the variations in monsoon rainfall are known
well in advance, it would be possible to reduce the
adverse impacts related to excess or deficient rainfall,
providing us prior information about droughts and
floods.
• The accurate prediction of monsoon rainfall is a basic need for the nation but remained a
challenge over the decades.
• The long range prediction of the seasonal mean monsoon rainfall depends on dynamics of its
year-to-year variations.
• Recent improvements in dynamical numerical models with ocean-atmosphere coupling can
be useful for improvement of the monsoon forecast skill through a collective effort.

About the Mission:


• Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India has launched 'National Monsoon
Mission' (NMM) with a vision to develop a state-of-the-art dynamical prediction system for
monsoon rainfall on different time scales.
• MoES has bestowed the responsibility of execution and coordination of this mission to the
Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.
• For this national mission, IITM is collaborating with NCEP (USA), MoES organisations and
various academic institutions/organizations under NMM.
• Climate Forecast System (CFS) of NCEP, USA has been identified as the basic modelling
system for the above purpose, as it is one of the best among the currently available coupled
models.
• However, it has a moderate skill for retrospective forecast (hindcast) of seasonal monsoon
rainfall and this skill needs to be improved to make the forecasts more useful.
• Thus, there is an urgent need to develop an Indian model based on CFS coupled model with
an improved hindcast skill so that it can be transferred to the India Meteorological
Department for operational forecasting.
• With this objective, To accomplish this task, MoES/IITM invited proposals from national and
international scientists/organizations.

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85. INFORMATION FUSION CENTRE (IFC) FOR THE INDIAN


OCEAN REGION (IOR)

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Context:
• The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC- IOR) which was set up last year
has started functioning as an information sharing hub of maritime data.
• The IFC-IOR has been established at the Indian Navy’s Information Management and
Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram, Haryana.

About IFC-IOR:
• It is the single point center linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-
time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
• It has been established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and
beyond by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime
information hub for the region.
• The IFC will share White Shipping Information with the countries.
• White shipping refers to commercial shipping information about the movement of cargo
ships.
• All Countries that have signed the white shipping information agreement with India are IFC
partners.

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Significance:
• The Information on commercial shipping will improve maritime domain awareness in the
Indian Ocean region.
• It will strengthen the mutual collaboration and understanding of the threats prevalent in
the region.
• It will also help to counter the rise in maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean region.

86. HINDU KUSH MOUNTAINS

Topic: Salient features of world's physical geography.


Context:
• India Meteorological Department (IMD) will collaborate with meteorological agencies in China
and Pakistan, among others, to provide climate forecast services to countries in Hindu Kush
Mountain region.
• It will be under the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

About the mountains:


• The Hindu Kush and Himalayan Range (HKH) is famously known as the earth’s “third pole” as it
forms the largest area of permanent ice cover outside of the North and South Poles.
• The HKH region spans Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia,
Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
• It is the source of ten major rivers, and is particularly sensitive to climate change.
• According to Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, 36% of the glaciers along in the Hindu Kush and
Himalaya range (HKH) could melt by 2100 even if global temperature rise is limited to 1.5C above
pre-industrial levels.

About WMO:
• It is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 192 Member States and Territories.
• It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) for meteorology, operational hydrology and
related geophysical sciences.
• It was established by the ratification of the WMO Convention on 23 March 1950.
• It is headquartered at Geneva, Switzerland.
• It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was established
after the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress.

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87. MOUNT PAEKTU

Topic: Salient features of world's physical


geography.

Context:
• North Korea leader has visited the Mount Paektu.

About Mount Paektu:


• Paektu Mountain is also known as Baekdu
Mountain
• In China, it is known as Changbai Mountain.
• It is a volcanic mountain that had last erupted
over 1,000 years ago.
• The mountain is situated at the border between
North Korea and China.
• At a height of about 9,000 feet, it is also the
highest peak in the Korean Peninsula.

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88. COLLECTIVE ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR BEGAN HALF-A-


BILLION YEARS AGO

Topic: Science and Technology-


developments and their
applications and effects in
everyday life Achievements of
Indians in science & technology;
indigenization of technology
and developing new technology.

Context:
• Researchers have found that the fossils of tiny, horseshoe-shaped creatures that inched along
the ocean floor in single-line formations some 480 million years ago reveal the earliest known
collective animal behaviour.
• The remains of now-extinct creatures called trilobites were almost perfectly preserved in the
Moroccan desert near the town of Zagora.
• Like all arthropods — a phylum that includes insects, centipedes, spiders and crustaceans —
trilobites had a segmented body and an exoskeleton.

Background:
• The fossil find shows a dozen of the coin-sized animals in a row all facing in the same direction,
separated only by the length of two tapered spines trailing in an inverted “U” and touching the
animal next in line.
• Group behaviour among animals — schools of fish, flocks of birds, herds of antelope — has
been exhaustively studied by biologists, but little is known about when or how it originated.

Highlights:
• The new find suggests two possible scenarios, the primitive animals, a species called Ampyx
priscus, might have been moving from one micro-environment to another to avoid bad
weather.
• Alternatively, the orderly seabed procession could have been seasonal reproductive behaviour
such as the migration of sexually mature individuals to spawning grounds.
• Whatever was driving their nose-first, single-file marches along the ocean floor, it shows “a
somewhat sophisticated nervous system.
• To exhibit collective behaviour, one needs an adapted nervous system that can pass signals
from one individual to another.

89. MARAWAH ISLAND

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Topic: Distribution of key natural resources across the world.

Context:
• The World’s oldest known natural pearl was discovered at a Neolithic site on Marawah Island off
the coast of Abu Dhabi.
• The pearl has been named as the ‘Abu Dhabi Pearl that have been radio dated to 5,800-5,600
BCE.

About the discovery:


• The discovery proves that pearls and oysters were being used in the UAE nearly 8,000 years ago.
• Prior to this discovery, the earliest pearl was found in another Neolithic site off the coast of Abu
Dhabi.

About Marawah Island:


• Marawah is a low-lying island off the coast of
the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu
Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
• The island is 15 km north of the Khor al-Bazm
(lagoon) along the Abu Dhabi coastline in the
southern Gulf.

90. SIACHEN GLACIER

Topic: geographical features and their location- changes in critical


geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and
fauna and the effects of such changes.
Context:
• Government of India has declared that the Siachen Glacier area of Ladakh will be opened for
tourists.

About the Glacier:


• Siachen is the world’s highest battlefield.
• It is among the largest glaciers in the nonpolar region of the world.
• The glacier is located in the Eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas.
• It is 75km long and 2 to 8km wide.
• The glacier lies just northeast of Point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and
Pakistan ends.

Highlights:

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• The Siachen has been an important bone of contention between India and Pakistan since 1984
when the Indian Army launched Operation Meghdoot to take control of the entire Siachen
glacier.
• The glacier’s melting waters are the main source of the Nubra River in the Indian region of Ladakh
which drains into the Shyok River.
• The Shyok in turn joins the Indus River which flows through Pakistan.
• The highest helipad in the world named Sonam (20,997 ft) is maintained by India in Siachen.

91. ULURU

Topic: Salient features of world's physical geography.


Context:
• Recently, Australian Government has banned the climbing of Uluru desert rock, considered
sacred by the local Anangu people.

About Uluru:
• Uluru is also known as Ayers Rock.
• It is located in central Australia.
• It is sacred to the local Anangu people, the Aboriginal people residing in that area.
• The rock is a large sandstone rock formation.
• It is composed of coarse-grained arkose (a type of sandstone characterised by an abundance of
feldspar) and some conglomerate.
• The rock is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• The Uluru rock is notable for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year,
most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset.

92. MALNUTRITION IN INDIA

Topic: Issues related to Poverty and Hunger.

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Context:
• Data from comprehensive national nutrition survey – conducted by the Ministry of Health
and Family welfare and UNICEF – released.
• While under nutrition remains a problem for India, obesity is creating another problem of
malnutrition in India.

Background:
• Nearly 10% of children and
adolescents are pre-diabetic, with
7% showing risk of chronic kidney
disease.
• About 4% adolescents have high
cholesterol, and 5% having high
blood pressure.
• This highlights that along with
programmes to provide nutrition,
the dual nature of malnutrition
problem in the country requires a
stress on right nutrition.

Steps taken by the government:


• Schemes such as Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), National Rural Health
Mission (NRHM) which have elements related to supplementary nutrition; counselling on
diet, rest and breastfeeding etc.
• A comprehensive National Nutrition Strategy 2017, outlining a plan to fight the menace of
malnutrition in the country.
• National Nutrition Mission(POSHAN Abhiyaan) having specific targeted approaches to lower
Stunting and wasting in children, and anemia in pregnant and lactating mothers.
• Programmes such as Mothers’ Absolute Affection (MAA) to bring undiluted focus on
promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counselling services for supporting
breastfeeding through health systems, as according to WHO universalization of
breastfeeding has the potential to reduce malnutrition in children to a major extent.
• Programmes such as MGNREGA, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, and various pension schemes for
income support to marginalized groups improves accessibility to food.
• Use of biotechnology for food fortification to counter hidden hunger.

93. PNEUMOCONIOSIS

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

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Context:
• Rajasthan has announced the creation of a Pneumoconiosis Fund.
• The fund will be majorly financed by money from the District Mineral Foundation (DMF).

About the fund:


• The fund will be
operating Rajasthan’s
Social Justice and
Empowerment
Department.
• The fund will be used to
finance a
comprehensive policy
on Pneumoconiosis,
recently released by the
Rajasthan government.

About Pneumoconiosis:
• Pneumoconiosis is the
general term for a class
of interstitial lung diseases (the tissue and space around the alveoli) where inhalation of dust
has caused interstitial fibrosis.
• It is occupational health disease and mostly affects workers who work in the mining and
construction sectors.
• Depending upon the type of dust, the disease is given different names:
• Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (also known as miner’s lung, black lung or anthracosis) — coal,
carbon.
• Asbestosis — asbestos.
• Silicosis (also known as “grinder’s disease”) – silica dust.

About District Mineral Foundation (DMF):


• It is a trust set up as a non-profit body, in those districts affected by the mining works.
• It works for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining related
operations.
• It is funded through the contributions from miners.
• Its manner of operation comes under the jurisdiction of the relevant State Government.
• Setting up of District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) in all districts in the country affected by
mining related operations was mandated through the Mines and Minerals (Development &
Regulation) Amendment Act, (MMDRA) 2015.

94. DEADLY JAPANESE FUNGI


FOUND IN AUSTRALIA

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Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.
Context:
• One of the world’s most deadly fungi called Poison fire Coral has been identified growing in
Australia for the first time.
About Poison fire Coral:
• Poison fire coral which has a red appearance is a native of Japan and Korea.
• The fungus
species is the
only known
fungus that is
poisonous to
touch.
• It produces at
least eight toxic
compounds that can
be absorbed
through the
skin.
• The ingestion of the
virus can prove
fatal and there are
several recorded deaths in Japan and Korea.
• Even touching the fungus can also cause inflammation and dermatitis.
• Further, If eaten, the fungus can cause organ failure and brain damage.

95. TELANGANA’S IDEA OF SUPPLYING MEDICINES TO


REMOTE AREAS BY DRONES

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.
Context:
• The Telangana government has adopted a framework to use drones for last-mile delivery of
essential medical supplies.
• Telangana Government and the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial
Revolution Network had announced the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project.

Background:

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• The project aims to develop source materials for policymakers and health systems to analyse
the challenges that come with drone delivery, and to compare this model with other
competing delivery models.
• The project has been co-designed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Apollo Hospitals
Group Healthnet Global Limited.
• The project will help facilitate decision-making in healthcare supply chains, focus on last-mile
deliveries and address issues that affect the medical distribution system.

Significance:
• The core advantage of their use is reduction of the time taken to transport material, and
improving supply chain efficiency.
• In Rwanda, drone-related pilot projects have been implemented on a national scale to
deliver medical supplies without delay and at scheduled intervals.

About Drones Regulation:


• A drone is an aircraft that operates without a pilot on board and is referred to as an
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
• It has three subsets which are
(a) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA),
(b) Autonomous Aircraft and
(c) Model Aircraft.
• RPAs are aircraft that are piloted from remote pilot stations.
• It can be further classified into five types on the basis of weight: nano, micro, small, medium
and large.
• In India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation
acts as the regulatory body for drones.
• The DGCA’s drone policy requires all owners of RPAs except drones in the smallest ‘nano’
category to seek permission for flights and comply with regulations including registration
and operating hours (only during the day and areas) and not above designated high security
zones.

About World Economic Forum (WEF):


• WEF was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation
• The objective of WEF is to improve the state of the world by engaging business, political,
academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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• Some of the most significant


reports published by the
WEF are (a)Global
Competitiveness Report
(b)Global Gender Gap
Report (c)Global Risks
Report and (d)Global Travel
and Tourism Report among
others.

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96. COMPREHENSIVE NATIONAL NUTRITION SURVEY (CNNS)

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:
• The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has
found that 35 percent of children under the age of 5 years in the country are stunted, while 17
per cent are wasted and 33 per cent are underweight.
• The survey, conducted between 2016 and 2018, also found that 24 per cent of adolescents were
thin for their age, 4-8 per cent of adolescents were overweight or obese, 6 per cent of
adolescents were overweight, and 2 per cent had abdominal obesity.

Background:
• The study also found that 10.4 percent of 10-19 year-olds in India are pre-diabetic, which experts
say is largely due to consumption of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles.
• A number of the most populous states including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar
Pradesh, and had a high (37-42 per cent stunting prevalence.
• The lowest prevalence of stunting (16-21 per cent) was found in Goa and Jammu and Kashmir.

Features:
• A higher prevalence of stunting in under-fives was found in rural areas (37 per cent) compared
to urban areas (27 per cent).
• Also, children in the poorest wealth quintile were more likely to be stunted (49 per cent), as
compared to 19 per cent in the richest quintile.
• According to the survey, 17 per cent of Indian children age 0-4 years were wasted.
• High prevalence (20 percent) states including Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and
Jharkhand.
• The states with the lowest prevalence of under-five wasting were Manipur, Mizoram and
Uttarakhand (6 per cent each).
• The study also found that 41 percent of pre-schoolers, 24 percent of school-age children and 28
percent of adolescents were anaemic.
• Anaemia was a moderate or severe public health problem among pre-schoolers in 27 states,
among school-age children in 15 states, and among adolescents in 20 states.

About CNNS:
• Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS), the first-ever nationally representative
nutrition survey of children and adolescents in India, was commissioned by the ministry and
carried out by experts from various institutes, including PGIMER Chandigarh, Kalawati Saran
Children’s Hospital in New Delhi, along with experts from UNICEF and other development
partners.
• Some of the figures in the CNNS survey, conducted between 2016 and 2018, are marginally
lower than the malnutrition data from the National Family Health Survey that dates back to
2015-16.

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97. eDANTSEVA

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-


governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;
citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other
measures.
Context:
• eDantseva website and
mobile application, the first
ever national digital platform
on oral health information
and knowledge
dissemination was launched.
• It will reach out to more than
one billion people with one
click in the form of a
dedicated website and
mobile application.

Background:
• It contains information about the National Oral Health Program, detailed list of all the
dental facility and colleges, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material and
a unique feature called the ‘Symptom Checker’, which provides information on symptoms
of dental/oral health problems, ways to prevent these, the treatment modes, and also
directs the user to find their nearest available dental facility (public and private sectors
both).

Highlights:
• The website also provides GPRS route/images/satellite images of the facility for easier
access to the general population.
• The two countries agreed at early operationalization of Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal
(BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement for movement of goods and passengers between the
member countries who are willing and ready.
• They have also directed their officials to expedite establishment of twelve Border Haats
which have been agreed to by both countries.

98. NATIONAL NUTRITION SURVEY

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Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:
• The Government of India has released the first-ever comprehensive National Nutrition Survey.
• The survey has been conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the United
Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to measure malnutrition.

About the survey:


• The survey recorded not only micronutrient deficiencies but also details of non-communicable
diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and kidney function in children and
adolescents.
• Nearly 10% of children in the age group of 5-9 years and adolescents in the age group of 10-19
years are pre- diabetic.
• Further, 5% of the children and adolescents in the same group are overweight and another 5%
suffer from blood pressure.

About the findings in Urban India:


• Malnutrition among children in urban India is characterised by relatively poor levels of
breastfeeding, higher prevalence of iron and Vitamin D deficiency as well as obesity.
• In rural India, there is higher percentage of children suffering from stunting, underweight and
wasting and lower consumption of milk products.
• 83% of children between 12 and 15 months continued to be breastfed, a higher proportion of
children in this age group residing in rural areas are breastfed (85%) compared to children in
urban areas (76%).
• Breastfeeding is inversely proportional to household wealth.
• Children and adolescents residing in urban areas also have a higher (40.6%) prevalence of iron
deficiency compared to their rural counterparts (29%).
• Children in urban areas are also overweight and obese as indicated by subscapular skinfold
thickness (SSFT) for their age.
• Wealthier households in urban areas and sedentary lifestyle of children may also be responsible
for higher deficiency of Vitamin D in urban areas (19%) as compared to rural areas (12%).

About the findings in Rural India:


• Among children aged 1-4 years, zinc deficiency is more common in rural areas (20%) compared
to urban areas (16%).
• Rural areas also witness higher prevalence of stunting (37% in rural versus 27% in urban),
underweight (36% in rural versus 26% in urban) and severe acute malnutrition (34.7% in rural
areas for children in 5-9 years versus 23.7% in urban areas and 27.4% in urban areas for
adolescents in 10-19 years versus 32.4% in rural areas).

About UNICEF:
• UNICEF stands for United Nations Children’s Fund.

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• It was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946.


• It is headquartered in New York, USA.
• It is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve
the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.

About Stunting:
• Stunting- low height for age, Wasting- low weight compared to height, Underweight- low weight
for age.
• Malnutrition includes both under and over nutrition.

99. DENGUE

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

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Context:
• Delhi government has said that the government’s campaign to get people to invest 10 minutes
every week to stop dengue mosquitoes from breeding has led to just 356 cases of Dengue
compared to 650 in 2018.
• According to the World Health Organisation, Dengue is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the
bite of an infected female Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

About Dengue:
• The mosquito becomes infected when it feeds on the blood of a person infected with the
virus.

• After about one week, the mosquito can then transmit the virus while biting a healthy
person.
• The dengue virus (DEN) comprises four distinct serotypes (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-
4) which belongs to the genus Flavivirus of the family Flaviviridae.
• The most cases of dengue occur in tropical areas of the world including the Indian
subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Taiwan among others.
• Dengue is a notifiable disease but a case is required to be notified only when the
confirmatory test has been done in the lab.
• However, there is no vaccine or specific medication for dengue fever.
• Patients should seek medical advice, rest and drink plenty of fluids.

100. CONFERENCE OF CENTRAL COUNCIL OF HEALTH AND


FAMILY WELFARE

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Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:
• The 13th Conference of Central Council of Health and Family Welfare was inaugurated by the
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
• The purpose of the conference is to build a consensus on Universal Health coverage (UHC)
through various flagship programs like Ayushman Bharat, National Control of Tuberculosis
Program, National Nutrition Mission among others.

About the conference:


• The conference also aims to promote steps towards the target of National Health Policy 2017
which is to allocate 2.5% of GDP to health by 2025.
• The conference is to be conducted on 4 pillars of healthcare namely (a) Universal Health

Coverage (b) Mission mode interventions (c)Quality and accessible affordable healthcare
services and (d)Adequate Infrastructure.

About Central Council of Health and Family Welfare:


• The Council of Health and Family Welfare is an apex advisory body to consider and
recommend broad lines of policy in regard to matters concerning Health and Family Welfare.
• The first meeting of the council was held in 1988.
• Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare is the Chairperson.
• Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare is the Vice Chairperson.

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101. GLOBAL FUND RAISES $13.92 BILLION TO FIGHT AIDS, TB,


MALARIA

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context:
• French President has said that the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria
(GFATM) has raised at least USD 13.92 billion for the next three years.

About GFATM:
• The Global Fund to fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (GFATM) is an international
financial organization.
• It aims to attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end epidemics of HIV/AIDS,
tuberculosis and malaria.
• It is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by
the diseases.
• It was formed in 2002.
• It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
• The organisation mobilizes and invests more than US$4billion a year to support programmes run
by local experts in more than
100 countries.

About India’s involvement:


• India shares a sustained
partnership with the Global
Fund since 2002 both as
recipient and as a donor.
• In the current funding cycle
(2018-21), the Global Fund
has allocated US$ 500
million to India.
• As a donor, India has
contributed US$ 46.5 million
so far till 2019 including US$
20 million for the
5thReplenishment.

102. NATIONAL COORDINATION CENTER

Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.


Context:

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• Government of India is planning to set up a National Coordination Center (NCC) that will function
as a data bank of Maoists.

About NCC:
• The National Coordination Center (NCC) will act as a synergy point for anti – Maoist operations
and intelligence gathering.
• It will create a strategy for security agencies to counter support received by the Maoist leaders.
• It will also control the sympathy gained or created by the Maoists in the social media.
• It will utilize knowledge of retired police officers who served in anti – Maoist operations in Odisha,
Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh.
• The coordination center will also identify the sources of finance to the Maoists and work to
neutralize the network.

About Maoism:
• Maoism originated in China as a form of Communist theory derived from the teachings of the
Chinese political leader Mao Zedong.
• It was widely applied as the political and military guiding ideology of the Communist Party of
China till 1977-78.
• It emphasised the advancement of people’s social and economic life by establishing a classless
society through armed revolution.

About Naxals:
• Naxalism originated as a rebellion against lack of development and poverty at the local level in
the rural parts of eastern India.
• The term ‘Naxal’ derives its name from a village called Naxalbari in the State of West Bengal.
• The movement had its origin under the leadership of Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal.
• The Naxals are considered far left radical communists who support Maoist political ideology.
• Their origin can be traced to the split that took place in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in
1967.
• It led to the formation of Communist Party of India (Marxist and Leninist).
• Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal.
• Thereafter, it spread into Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

103. SURAKSHIT MATRITVA AASHWASAN (SUMAN) SCHEME

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:
• Union Minister for Health along with several State Health Ministers launched Surakshit Matritva
Aashwasan (SUMAN) initiative for Zero Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths.

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• The scheme aims to provide dignified and quality health care at no cost
to every woman and newborn visiting a public health facility in order
to bring down maternal and infant mortality rates in the country.

About SUMAN:
• Under the scheme, pregnant women, mothers up to 6 avail free
healthcare benefits such as four antenatal check-ups and six home-
based newborn care visits.
• The scheme will enable zero expense access to the identification and management of
complications during and after the pregnancy.
• The government will also provide free transport from home to health institutions.
• The pregnant women will also have a zero expense delivery and C-section facility in case of
complications at public health facilities.

About Maternal mortality rate:


• Maternal mortality refers to the number of maternal deaths which occur due to pregnancy or as
a result of a complication of the same.
• Maternal mortality rate (MMR) is taken as the number of recorded maternal deaths, for every 1
lakh live births.
• According to the government, India’s maternal mortality rate has declined from 254 per 1, 00, 000
live births in 2004-06 to 130 in 2014-16.

About Infant mortality rate:


• Infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year
of age.
• Between 2001 and 2016, the infant mortality rate has also come down from 66 per 1,000 live
births to 34.

104. HIV-AIDS

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.
Context:
• According to Mizoram State AIDS Control Society (MSACS), Mizoram reports nine positive cases
of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) a day.

About HIV-AIDS:
• HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection,
making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
• Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a term which applies to the most advanced stages
of HIV infection.

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• It is defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or HIV-related


cancers.
• At present there is no effective cure for HIV, but HIV can be controlled.
• The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART.

About it’s prevalence in India:


• As per the India HIV Estimation 2017 report, National adult (15–49 years) HIV prevalence in India
is estimated at 0.22% in 2017.
• Among the States/UTs, in 2017, Mizoram has shown the highest estimated adult HIV prevalence
of 2.04% followed by Manipur, and Nagaland.
• The total number of people living with HIV in India is estimated at 21.40 lakhs in 2017.

Steps taken by the Government:


• National AIDS Control Program (NACP): It was launched in 1992. Launched in 2012, under the
Phase IV of NCAP, the target is to reduce new infections by 50% (2007 Baseline of NACP III). It also
seeks comprehensive care, support and treatment to all persons living with HIV/AIDS.
• National AIDS Control Organization: It is a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
that provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention
and Control Societies. It was established in 1992 to implement NACP.
• National Strategic Plan (2017-24): It aims towards fast tracking strategy of ending the AIDS
epidemic by 2030 and is expected to pave a roadmap for achieving the target of 90:90:90.
• Mission SAMPARK: The aim is to trace those who are Left to Follow Up and are to be brought
under Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) services.
• Project Sunrise: It aims at prevention of AIDS especially among people injecting drugs in the 8
North-Eastern states.

Highlights:
• Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS): It is the main advocate
accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It was
established in 1994 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
• 90:90:90 Strategy: It is a HIV treatment narrative of UNAIDS programme which has set targets of
• 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status (90% diagnosed),
• 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy
(90% on HIV treatment) and
• 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression (90%
suppressed)

105. NATIONAL BLINDNESS AND


VISUAL IMPAIRMENT SURVEY

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

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Context:
• The National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey 2019 has been released by the Union
Health Minister.
• The survey was conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for Union
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
• It was conducted in 31 districts of 24 States.

About the findings:


• The survey has found that Cataract is the principal cause of blindness for people above 50 years
in India.
• India was the first country to launch the National Programme for Control of Blindness in 1976 to
reduce blindness prevalence to 0.3 per cent by 2020.
• But, the survey has found that the estimated prevalence of blindness still stands at 1.99% as of
October, 2019.
• The blindness is more pronounced among illiterate group than literates and more prevalent in the
rural population than urban population.
• It has also found that approximately 93% of cases of blindness and 96.2% visual impairment cases
in this age group were avoidable.
• The survey has also said that India has successfully met the WHO target of 25% reduction from
2014-19 in visual impairment from the baseline level of 2010.
• The barriers to accessing treatment include (a) no one to accompany the patient (b) seasonal
preferences and (c) financial constraints.

About Cataract:
• Cataract is a clouding or loss of transparency of the lens in the eye as a result of tissue breakdown
and protein clumping.
• There are many causes of cataracts, including aging, cortisone medication, trauma, diabetes and
other diseases.
• Cataracts affect most people who live into an old age.

106. THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S


CHILDREN REPORT

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Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure,


mandate.
Context:
• United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund-UNICEF has released “The State of the World’s
Children Report”.
• The report has said that a third of the world’s children under five years of age which is around
700 million have nutrition problems.
• They are undernourished or are facing overweight problems.
• It has also stated that despite 40% drop in stunting of children in poor countries between 1990
and 2015,149 million are still too short for their age.

Background:
• The report warns that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child’s
life.
• It stated that breastfeeding can save lives, but only 42% of children under six months of age are
exclusively breastfed.
• Further, the report has also said that 50 million children are affected by wasting.

Suggestions in the report:


• Empowering families, children and young people to demand
nutritious food, including by improving nutrition education and
using proven legislation such as sugar taxes to reduce demand
for unhealthy foods.
• Driving food suppliers to do the right thing for children by
incentivizing the provision of healthy, convenient and
affordable foods.
• Building healthy food environments for children and
adolescents by using proven approaches, such as accurate and
easy-to-understand labelling and stronger controls on the
marketing of unhealthy foods.
• Mobilizing supportive systems – health, water and sanitation,
education and social protection – to scale up nutrition results for all children.
• Collecting, analyzing and using good-quality data and evidence to guide action and track progress.

About UNICEF:
• UNICEF, acronym of United Nations Children’s Fund, formerly United Nations International
Children’s Emergency Fund.
• It was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946.
• It is headquartered in New York, USA.
• It is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve
the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
• Stunting- low height for age, Wasting- low weight compared to height, Underweight- low weight
for age.
• Malnutrition includes both under and over nutrition.

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107. ANTHRAX

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context:
• Recently, Veterinarians have confirmed
anthrax as the cause of death of two Asiatic
water buffaloes in central Assam’s Pobitora
Wildlife Sanctuary.

About Anthrax:
• Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by the
bacterium Bacillus anthracis.
• The bacteria live in soil and usually infect wild
and domestic animals such as goats, cattle and
sheep.
• However, humans, pigs and dogs are
comparatively less susceptible and only get
infected if exposed to copious amounts of
spores.
• Anthrax responds well to antibiotic treatment
but vaccines are necessary as the infection can
cause death within two-three days leaving no
scope for diagnosis and treatment.
• Anthrax does not spread directly from one
infected animal or person to another as it spread by spores.
• These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.
• In 2001, these spores were used as agents of bio-terrorism when letters containing anthrax spores
were sent to some people in America leading to widespread panic.

About Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary:


• Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the flood plains of River Brahmaputra in the district of
Morigaon and about 45 kms from Guwahati, the capital of Assam, India.
• It harbors the highest density of Rhino in the world and the second highest concentration of
Rhino in Assam after Kaziranga National Park.
• Besides rhinoceros, the other mammals found are Leopard, Leopard cat, Fishing cat, Jungle cat,
Feral Buffalo, Wild pigs, Chinese pangolins among others.

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108. LIVER TRANSPLANT REGISTRY

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:
• India’s first voluntary liver transplant registry has been started by the Liver Transplantation
Society of India.
• The liver transplant registry aims to collate national data of the procedures and their outcomes.

About Liver transplant registry:


• The registry has been established as nearly 2,000 liver transplants are carried out in the country
annually.
• But there is no India-specific data.
• On the other hand, in Western countries it is mandatory to report all transplants and the
outcomes.

Salient features of the Act:


• The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 was enacted by the Parliament in 1994.
• The main purpose of the Act is to regulate the removal, storage, and transplantation of human
organs for therapeutic purposes and to prevent commercial dealings in human organs.
• The Liver Transplant Society of India (LTSI) has been established with the primary objective of
facilitating the growth of liver transplantation and allied fields in India.

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109. PERITONEAL DIALYSIS

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context:
• Union Health Ministry has released guidelines for establishing peritoneal dialysis services under
the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Program (PMNDP).
• Dialysis is the process of removing excess water, solutes, and toxins from the blood in people
whose kidneys can no longer perform these functions naturally.
• This is also referred to as renal replacement therapy.

About the two types of dialysis:


Hemodialysis (HD)
• It is commonly known as blood dialysis.
• In HD, the blood is filtered through a machine that acts like an artificial kidney and is returned
back into the body.
• HD needs to be performed in a designated dialysis center.
• It is usually needed about 3 times per week with each episode talking about 3-4 hours.

Peritoneal dialysis (PD)


• It is commonly known as water dialysis.
• In PD, the blood is cleaned without being removed from the body.
• The abdomen sac (lining) acts as a natural filter.
• A solution (mainly made up of salts and sugars) is injected into the abdomen that encourages
filtration such that the waste is transferred from the blood to the solution.
• This process can be done at Home.
• Hence, it does away with the substantial costs of infrastructure, maintenance and staffing, reduces
the demand on the healthcare system and offers patient autonomy.

About Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme:


• The Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme was rolled out in 2016 as part of the National
Health Mission (NHM) for the provision of free dialysis services to the poor.
• The first phase of the programme envisaged setting up centers for hemodialysis.
• The Guidelines for Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme envisage the provision of
dialysis services under NHM in PPP (Public-Private Partnership) model.

About the recent guidelines:


• The Ministry has requested all States to include proposals for establishing peritoneal dialysis
under their respective programme implementation plans.
• The guidelines also envisage providing training to community health workers to provide support
to persons for peritoneal dialysis at home or in primary healthcare settings.
• This move will instantly benefit the 2 lakh Indians who develop end-stage kidney failure every
year in India.

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110. 2 OUT OF 3 WILD POLIOVIRUS HAVE BEEN ERADICATED,


SAYS WHO

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:
• On the World Polio Day, independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis
Eradication (GCC) has declared that wild poliovirus type 3(WPV3) has been eradicated
worldwide.

About Polio:
• Polio is an acute infectious disease caused by polio virus.
• The virus is a human enterovirus of the Picornaviridae.
• It is transmitted from one person to another by oral contact with secretions or faecal material
from an infected person.
• It attacks the central nervous system through the bloodstream.
• It damages the cells and paralyse the victim.
• Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age.
• There is no cure for polio.
• It can only be prevented.
• The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every
child until transmission stops.
• India was declared polio free in 2014.
• The last case was reported in January 2011.

About it’s types:


• There are three individual and immunologically distinct wild poliovirus strains namely (a)wild
poliovirus type 1(WPV1)
(b) wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) and
(c) wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3).
• Symptomatically, all three strains are identical, in that they cause irreversible paralysis or even
death.
• But there are genetic and virological differences, which make these three strains three separate
viruses that must each be eradicated individually.
• The WPV2 and WPV3 have been eradicated globally.
• WPV1 remains in circulation in just two countries namely Afghanistan and Pakistan.

About World Polio Day:


• World Polio Day was established by Rotary International on 24th October.

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• The day was established to celebrate the birth of Jonas Salk who had developed a vaccine
against Polio.

111. CAN ORGANOIDS, DERIVED


FROM STEM CELLS, BE USED IN DISEASE TREATMENTS?

Topic: Science and Technology.


Context:
• At Neuroscience 2019, the Society for Neuroscience’s 49th annual meeting, held in Chicago,
U.S., two neuroscientists warned the gathering that fellow scientists are “perilously close” to
crossing the ethical red line of growing mini-brains or organoids in the laboratory that can
perceive or feel things.

Background:
• In some cases, scientists have already transplanted such lab-grown brain organoid to adult
animals.
• The transplanted organoid had integrated with the animal brain, grown new neuronal
connections and responded to light.
• Similarly, lung organoid transplanted into mice was able to form branching airways and early
alveolar structures.
• These are seen as a step towards potential “humanisation” of host animals.

About the Organoids:


• Organoids are a group of cells grown in laboratories into three-dimensional, miniature structures
that mimic the cell arrangement of a fully-grown organ.
• They are tiny (typically the size of a pea) organ-like structures that do not achieve all the
functional maturity of human organs but often resemble the early stages of a developing tissue.
• Most organoids contain only a subset of all the cells seen in a real organ, but lack blood vessels
to make them fully functional.
• In the case of brain organoids, scientists have been able to develop neurons and even make
specific brain regions such as the cerebral cortex that closely resemble the human brain.
• The largest brain organoids that have been grown in the laboratory are about 4 mm in diameter.

Highlights:
• Organoids are grown in the lab using stem cells that can become any of the specialised cells seen
in the human body, or stem cells taken from the organ or adults cells that have been induced to
behave like stem cells, scientifically called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC).
• Stem cells are provided with nutrients and other specific molecules to grow and become cells
resembling a specific organ.
• The growing cells are capable of self-organising into cellular structures of a specific organ and can
partly replicate complex functions of mature organs — physiological processes to regeneration
and being in a diseased state.

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• Organoids of the brain, small


intestine, kidney, heart,
stomach, eyes, liver,
pancreas, prostate, salivary
glands, and inner ear to name
a few have already been
developed in the laboratory.
• Organoids can be used to
study the safety and efficacy
of new drugs and also test the
response of tissues to existing
medicines.
• Organoids will bring precision
medicine closer to reality by
developing patient-specific
treatment strategies by
studying which drugs the
patient is most sensitive to.
• Since the use of animals
during drug development
studies is becoming increasingly difficult, the focus has been on refining, reducing and replacing
them.
• While scientists have been increasingly using human cell lines and other methods, such
alternatives have some inherent limitations — they cannot mimic the whole organ system.
• Organoids are a far superior alternative to cell lines.
• Organoids offer new opportunities to studying proteins and genes that are critical for the
development of an organ.
• This helps in knowing how a mutation in a specific gene causes a disease or disorder.
• In a study in Europe using intestinal organoids from six patients with an intestine disorder, it
became possible to identify the mutation in a gene that prevented the formation of a healthy
intestine.
• Researchers have used brain organoids to study how the Zika virus affects brain development in
the embryo.

112. NOVEL METHOD FOUND TO KILL DORMANT TB


BACTERIA IN STEM CELLS

Topic: Developmental Issues.

Context:
• Delhi-based researchers have found that inhibiting lipid synthesis inside stem cells that produce
bone cells (mesenchymal stem cells) can help in killing TB bacteria that are found inside the stem
cells in a dormant state and safely shielded from the host immune system and TB drugs.

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Background:
• While TB bacteria inside the macrophages actively divide,
microbes inside stem cells lie dormant and also make the
stem cells less likely to replicate thus surviving for an
extended period of time.
• Ex vivo studies with human stem cells and work on mice
showed that the two cells are programmed very differently
to support active and dormant TB bacteria infection.
• A team led by Gobardhan Das from the Special Centre for
Molecular Medicine at the Jawaharlal Nehru University
(JNU) found that TB bacteria are free in the intracellular fluid
(cytosol) of the mesenchymal stem cells while they are surrounded by the macrophage cell
membrane on being engulfed.
• This allows the bacteria to promote rapid synthesis of lipids inside the stem cells and hide within
the lipid droplets so created.

About Mesenchymal stem cells:


• Mesenchymal stem cells serve as reservoirs of dormant TB bacteria was known but the mechanism
by which the bacteria survive for a long period was not known.

About the study:


• Studies using human mesenchymal stem cells and macrophages and mice model studies helped
us understand how TB bacteria hijack the cellular mechanism to stop the stem cells from
replicating and turn themselves dormant.
• The bacteria instruct the stem cells to synthesise lipids and hide inside them.
• The stem cells don’t kill microbes that are inside lipid droplets.
• There was sustained expression of genes controlling dormancy in the bacteria isolated from stem
cells while genes that promote replication were expressed in bacteria isolated from macrophages.
• Mouse mesenchymal stem cells and macrophages too showed similar behaviour.

Highlights:
• In vitro studies using human stem cells showed the bacteria inhibiting stem cell replication.
• When inhibitors to block lipid synthesis were used, there was reduced expression of genes that
regulate dormancy of TB bacteria and replication of stem cells.
• This helped confirm that TB bacteria induce lipid synthesis in stem cells and hide inside the lipid
cells to escape from anti-TB drugs.
• Inhibiting autophagy is one of the ways by which TB bacteria survive inside host cells.
• The researchers treated human macrophages and stem cells infected with TB bacteria with an
anti-TB drug (isoniazid) and/or rapamycin.
• While isoniazid eliminated replicating bacteria found in macrophages, rapamycin induced
autophagy in stem cells to kill the microbes.
• Similar results were obtained in mouse models too.

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113. MAHATMA GANDHI 150TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY :


RECOVERING GANDHI’S RELIGIOUS VISION

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth
century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
Context:
• Gandhi was suspicious of many things modern, including modern Hinduism: a new,
19th century religion, sharply demarcated from others, and a fitting rival of Islam and
Christianity.
• The reason because he viewed himself as a sanatani, an adherent of a way of life that
started long, long ago but, unlike the ancient that is dead and gone, continues to live
today.

His idea of diversity:


• Central to this seemingly everlasting Hindu imagination is its deep plurality, reflected in
its acceptance of the co-existence of three basic ethical forms: one dependent on
multiple gods and goddesses, one on a single god, and one even entirely independent
of god, gods and goddesses (truth-seeking).
• For Gandhi, this religio-philosophical plurality is the inevitable and healthy destiny
of humankind.
• For Gandhi, there is not only diversity of religions but also diversity within them.
• He said, “While I believe myself to be a Hindu, I know that I do not worship God in the
same manner as any one or all of them.”

His arguments:
• Given the inescapability of deep religious diversity, he argued, “the need of the moment
is not one religion for the whole of human kind, but mutual respect, equal regard and
tolerance of the devotees of different religions.”
• This moral-practical attitude of equal regard for all religions is entailed by an epistemic
grasp of the deeper, more fundamental unity of all religions.
• “The soul of religion is one, but encased in a multitude of forms. Wise men will ignore
the outward crust and see the same soul living under a variety of crusts.”
• The basic reference of all religions is the same: God or Truth.
• “All religions are true and all have some error in them and that whilst I hold by my own,
I should hold others as dear as Hinduism and make no distinction between them.”

Inclusiveness:
• Gandhi’s inclusive (belief in one God that encompasses all gods) rather than exclusive
(belief in only one True God, while holding all others as false) monotheism flows
directly from Indian ‘polytheistic’ traditions, a trait they share with other religious
traditions of the ancient world (Greek, Latin, Pre- Islamic Arab religions).
• The implicit theology of these religions allows for translation of gods.
• For Gandhi, respect and toleration were related, and virtually indistinguishable.

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• This might appear strange.


• To ‘tolerate’, in the classical
17th century meaning of the
term, is to refrain from
interference in the activities
of others even though one
finds them morally
repugnant and despite
having the power to do so.

114. KEEZHADI EXCAVATION LEADS TO ANCIENT


CIVILISATION ON THE BANKS OF VAIGAI

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.


Context:
• In 2013-14, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) carried out explorations in 293 sites
along the Vaigai river valley in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and
Ramanathapuram districts.
• Keezhadi in Sivaganga district was chosen for excavation and artefacts unearthed by the
ASI in the second phase of the excavation at Pallichanthai Thidal of Keezhadi pointed to
an ancient civilisation that thrived on the banks of the Vaigai.

Background:
• Carbon dating of charcoal found at the Keezhadi site in February 2017 established that
the settlement there belonged to 200 BC.
• The excavations thus proved that urban civilisation had existed in Tamil Nadu since the
Sangam age.
• The Union Ministry of Culture has announced that the third phase of excavation will
begin in this month and go on for three years and ₹40 lakh has been sanctioned.

Highlights:
• Carbon dating of artefacts collected during the fourth season of excavation at Keeladi
done at Beta Analytic Lab, Miami, USA, has revealed that urbanisation of Vaigai plains
had happened in Tamil Nadu around the 6th century BCE as happened in Gangetic plains.

115. RANGDUM MONASTERY

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Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms,
Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context:
• The Archaeological Survey of India is planning to declare the Rangdum Monastery located in
Ladakh (Kargil district) as a monument of national importance.

About the monastery:


• Rangdum Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist
monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect.
• It is situated on top of a hill at an altitude of
13,225 ft at the head of the Suru Valley in Ladakh.
• The main highlight of the monastery is its central
prayer hall with a collection of Tibetan and other
artifacts.
• The move aims to look into the opportunities for
expansion of tourism in the Ladakh region in the
backdrop of the decision to split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

About ASI:
• Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the premier organization for the archaeological
research, scientific analysis, excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and
preservation of protected monuments.
• It is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture.
• ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who was the first Director-General of
ASI.

About National Importance:


• The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958 defines
archaeological site and remains as any area which contains or is reasonably believed to
contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in
existence for not less than 100 years.
• When any archaeological site and remains is declared to be of national importance it is called
protected area under AMASR Act.

116. INDIA-US RELATIONS

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Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries


on India’s interests.
Context:
• US officials have urged US allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that risk
triggering sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act
(CAATSA).
• India has agreed to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defence system in 2018 and the start
of the payments for the system could risk sanctions under the CAATSA unless waiver is
granted by the US authorities.

About CAATSA:
• CAATSA is a US federal law that imposes
sanctions on US’s adverseries and currently
includes Iran, North Korea and Russia.
• It also includes sanctions against countries
that engage in significant transactions with
the defence and intelligence sectors of these
countries.

About S-400:
• It is an air defence missile system that can take down enemies’ aircraft in the sky from the
surface itself.
• The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence
system, capable of destroying destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones
at a range of 380-km.
• India considers it essential for safeguarding its borders against external aerial threats.

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117. HOW SINGAPORE LAW PROPOSES TO CRACK DOWN ON


‘FALSE’ ONLINE POSTS

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving


India and/or affecting India's interests.

Context:
• Singapore has passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, 2019.
• The act aims to control the spread of falsehood which the government deems to be a threat
to national security, public tranquility and Singapore’s friendly relations with other countries.

Background:
• The act enables the government to order social media websites to take down posts deemed
to be false.
• It gives Singaporean ministers the power to decide whether content on the internet is
considered a falsehood.
• The minister will need to explain why the
statement is false.

About Falsehood:
• A falsehood is defined as a statement of fact
that is false or misleading.
• However, the act’s definition of a falsehood is
limited to a statement of fact and does not
cover opinions, criticisms, satire or parody.

About the features of the act:


• Further, if a minister identifies a falsehood,
the individual is issued a Stop Communication
Direction to be complied with within a
specified time period.
• Only when falsehood is spread with malicious intent do criminal sanctions apply.
• It provides for prosecutions of individuals who can face fines of up to S$50,000 and, or up to
five years in prison.
• The act also provides for a set of binding Codes of Practice for technology companies covering
three areas.
• The three areas are (a) inauthentic online accounts and bots (b)digital advertising transparency
and (c)de- prioritising falsehoods will be applied to digital advertising intermediaries or
Internet intermediaries.

118. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME (TAP)

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Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India’s interests.
Context:
• India will be announcing the launch
of the second phase of the Cotton
Technical Assistance Programme
(TAP) for Africa at the Partners
Conference in Geneva.
• In the five year long second phase,
the programme will be scaled up in
size and coverage and will be
introduced in five additional
countries, namely Mali, Ghana,
Togo, Zambia and Tanzania.

Background:
• The Cotton TAP programme will now cover 11 African countries including the C4 (Benin, Burkina
Faso, Chad and Mali).
• India implemented a Technical Assistance Programme (TAP) for cotton in 6 African countries,
namely – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda from 2012 to 2018.

About the Programme:


The Technical Assistance Programme (TAP) covers the following broad areas:-
• Increasing cotton production (area expansion and productivity enhancement)
• Improving Extension & Support Service Efficiency
• Enhancing R&D/ Quality Control
• Marketing/Distribution Infrastructure
• Strengthening/development of cotton residue based value addition industry
• Creating/Strengthening Downstream Industry in Textiles and Clothing

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119. RCEP : OPPORTUNITY, FEARS IN REGIONAL TRADE DEAL

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.

Context:
• Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways will be attending the 8th Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
• RCEP is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) comprising of ASEAN countries (Brunei,
Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and
Vietnam) and their 6 FTA partners (India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

About the aims and objectives:


• The purpose of RCEP is to create an integrated market spanning all 16 countries, making it easier
for products and services of each of these countries to be available across this region.
• RCEP also aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and non-tariff barriers which is
expected to provide the region’s consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable
rates.
• It also seeks to liberalise investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions.

About its’ importance:


• The RCEP member countries represent 49% of the world’s population and accounts for 30% of
world GDP.
• It also makes up 29% of world trade and 26% of world FDI inflows.
• RCEP will reduce the trade barriers in Asia and the new rules will be consistent with WTO
agreements.
• It will also promote easier FDI flows and technology transfers by multinational corporations.

India’s deal with RCEP:


• The sections of the Indian industry feels that being part of RCEP would allow the country to tap
into a huge market and can make the domestic industry competitive.
• The rise in protectionism and non- tariff barriers and regulatory measures and the deadlock in
WTO negotiations are also important reasons for India to join the RCEP agreement.
• RCEP also has the potential to influence India’s strategic and economic status in the Asia-Pacific
region and help in fulfilment of India’s Act East Policy.

India’s concerns:
• India is concerned that the trade pact will allow greater access to Chinese goods which may have
an impact on the Indian manufacturing sector.
• Experts have said that India would not be able to take advantage of the deal due to its poor track
record of extracting benefits from the Free trade agreements (FTAs) with these countries.
• The industries like dairy and steel have demanded protection due to growing competition from
neighbouring countries with cheaper and more efficient processes may impact it negatively.

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• There are demands by other RCEP countries for lowering customs duties on a number of
products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide.

120. NEPAL, CHINA INK ROAD CONNECTIVITY DEAL

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on


India's interests, Indian diaspora.
Context:
• Chinese President is on a visit to Nepal.
• India and China have decided to construct a 70-km (42- mile) rail link which will connect the Gyiron
in Tibet with Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu.

About the deal:


• A 28-km Kerung-Kathmandu road tunnel is also proposed to halve the distance between
Kathmandu and Chinese border.
• Chinese President has also promised to replenish the Arniko highway that links Kathmandu with
Tatopani transit point.
• The highway was badly damaged in 2015 earthquake.
• Nepal and China has also signed around 20 deals covering water supply, trade, traditional
medicines.

About Nepal-China relations:


• Nepal is wedged between China and India.
• So being a landlocked nation, Nepal is trying to diversify its relations.
• For Nepal, China serves as a potential supplier of goods and assistance that it badly needs in order
to recover its economy.
• The Madhesi agitation in 2015 had forced Nepal to explore trade links with China and reduce its
long term dependence on India.
• Lastly, another factor to increase the interest is China card which most of the south Asian countries
are playing with India to gain the mileage in negotiations & counter India’s Big Brother approach.

Highlights:
• India has an advantage of geography on its side.
• Chinese rail and port connectivity projects are not very feasible owing to the difficult terrain.
• The nearest Chinese ports will be over 3000 km away while Kolkata and Visakhapatnam ports
which Nepal currently uses are relatively closer.
• India and Nepal has deep linguistic & cultural and religious affinity, whose trade or economic ties
with China alone cannot entirely takeover.

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121. INDIA JOINS WEF’s G20 GLOBAL CITIES ALLIANCE ON


TECHNOLOGY

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure,


mandate.

Context:
• India has joined the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) G20Global Smart Cities Alliance on
Technology Governance.

About the Alliance:


• The G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance was established in June 2019, in
conjunction with the G20 Summit held in Osaka, Japan.
• It is an alliance that comprises of 15 of the world’s leading city networks and technology
governance organisations.
• It seeks to work towards advancing the responsible and ethical use of smart city technologies.
• The alliance also aims to create global norms and policy standards for the use of connected
devices in public spaces.

About the founding Institutional Partners:


• Presidents and host nations of Group of 20 (G20) in 2019 and 2020.
• Japan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
• The Smart City Mission of India.
• Cities for All.
• Cities Today Institute.
• Commonwealth Local Government Forum.
• Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network among others.

Alliance advantage:
• Smart city technologies can help decrease traffic congestion, combat crime, improve resilience
during natural disasters and reduce greenhouse emissions.
• However, without proper governance, these technologies pose significant risk, notably to privacy
and security.
• Hence, India joining the league is a first step towards accelerating global best practices, fostering
greater openness and public trust as well as mitigating risks regarding the collection of data in
public spaces.

About World Economic Forum (WEF):


• WEF was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva,
Switzerland.
• The objective of WEF is to improve the state of the world by engaging business, political,
academic and other leaders of society to shape global,regional and industry agendas.

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• Some of the most significant reports published by the WEF are (a)Global Competitiveness Report
(b)Global Gender Gap Report (c)Global Risks Report and (d)Global Travel and Tourism Report
among others.

About G20:
• G20 is an international forum
of the governments and
central bank governors from
20 major economies formed
in 1999.
• Head quarter in
Cancún, Mexico
• The group accounts for 85%
of world GDP and two-thirds
of the population.
• They have no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations
divided into regional groupings.
• The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India,
Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the
United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

122. LOTUS-HR

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.
Context:
• India and Netherlands has launched the second phase of the LOTUS-HR as a part of joint
collaboration.
• LOTUS-HR stands for Local Treatment of Urban Sewage streams for Healthy Reuse plant.

About LOTUS – HR:


• The project was initiated in 2017.
• It aims to demonstrate a novel holistic waste-water management approach that will produce clean
water that can be reused for various proposes.
• The project also aims to simultaneously recover nutrients and energy from the urban waste water
thus converting drain into profitable mines.
• The project is jointly supported by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and the
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (STW), Government of the Netherlands.
• The location of the project is Barapullah drain systems, New Delhi.
• The partners in the project are IIT- Delhi and The Energy and Resources Institute(TERI).

About TERI:

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• The Energy and


Resources Institute
(TERI) is a non-profit
research institute.
• It conducts research
work in the fields of
energy, environment
and sustainable
development for
India and the Global
South.
• It was established in
1974 as the Tata
Energy Research
Institute and renamed to The Energy Resources Institute in 2003.
• Headquarters at the India Habitat Center, New Delhi.

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123. TULAGI ISLAND

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.

Context:
• A Chinese company has signed an agreement to lease Tulagi Island in the Solomon Islands for 75
years.

About Tulagi Island:


• Tulagi is a small island
Solomon Islands, just
off the south coast of
Ngella Sule (Florida
islands).
• It is about two square
kilometres (0.8 square
miles) with a
population of 1,200.
• It is the site of a former
Japanese naval base
and was the scene of
fighting in World War
II.
• The agreement with Chinese company mentions developing a refinery on the island.
• However, its potential for dual use as a Chinese military base is certain to raise concerns with the
United States and Australia.

124. BRITAIN CLINCHES BREXIT DEAL WITH EU

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.
Context:
• A revised Brexit deal has been agreed by the UK Prime Minister and European Union (EU).
• Under the deal, the whole of the UK will leave the EU but Northern Ireland will stay in the EU’s
single market for goods.

About the deal:


• The deal also says that EU citizens who are now living in Britain and UK citizens who are living or
working in EU countries won’t lose their rights to live and work in those areas.
• The deal also says that both EU and UK will work towards a Free Trade Agreement(FTA) and a high-
level meeting will be convened in June 2020 to take stock of progress towards this goal.

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About Brexit:
• Brexit is a term used to define United Kingdom coming out of European Union (EU).
• During a referendum in out of European Union (EU) in 2016, UK voted by a narrow margin in
favour of Brexit.
• Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any European Union (EU) member state the right to quit
unilaterally and outlines the procedure for doing so.
• The treaty gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal.

About European Union:


• The European Union is an international organization made up of 28 European countries.
• It governs common economic, social and security policies of its member states.
• It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services
and people between member states.
• The 19 EU countries use EURO as their official currency.
• But nine EU members namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland,
Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom do not use the euro.

125. INDIA PUTS OFF PM MODI’S VISIT TO TURKEY

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.
Context:
• Official sources from South Block are now awaiting alternative date proposals according to PM
Modi’s schedule in the next couple of months.
• Official sources also confirmed that the $2.3 billion tender granted to Turkey’s Anadolu Shipyard
earlier this year to help build five 45,000-tonne fleet support ships for the Hindustan Shipyard
Limited is likely to cancelled.

Background:
• The rules for local procurement and security concerns over Anadolu’s work for the Pakistan navy
were reasons for the likely cancellation.
• Turkey’s recent statements and its support for Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force on terror
financing were also considered.

Highlights:
• Turkey government had not reacted to New Delhi’s criticism of Turkey’s “unilateral military
offensive” against Syria on October 10, as all countries were “welcome to comment” on a global
issue.
• In a joint statement with the United States, Turkey agreed to “pause” the operations for 120
hours to ensure the safety of civilians and to allow those belonging to the Kurdish groups YPG
(PKK) to withdraw from the 32-km ‘safe zone’ along the border.
• The operations would allow 4 million Syrians living in Turkey since 2011 to return to their
homes.

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126. SRI LANKA REMOVED FROM


FATF’s GREY LIST : REPORT

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on


India's interests, Indian diaspora.
Context:
• Sri Lanka has been removed from ‘Grey List’ of
Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
• Sri Lanka was removed following the measures taken
by the country on financial security.

Background:
• Sri Lanka was first included in the FATF’s blacklist in
2011and by 2012 it was listed in the list as a dangerous country with no commitment to financial
security plan.
• In 2016, FATF had subjected Sri Lanka to a review for assessing the progress of Anti-Money
Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) effectiveness in country.
• Sri Lanka was declared a cooperating state in 2016 and FATF had decided to put Sri Lanka on its
grey list from November 2017.

About FATF:
• The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the
initiative of the G7.
• It is a policy-making body which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about
national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas.
• The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France.
• The objectives of the FATF are to (a) set standards and promote effective implementation of legal,
regulatory and operational measures (b) for combating money laundering (c)terrorist financing
and (d) other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

About the listing:


• The grey list contains those countries that have deficiencies in their anti-money laundering (AML)
and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime. But they commit to an action plan to
address these loopholes.
• Black list countries are those that do not end up doing enough even after having deficiencies in
their anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime.

127. BHASHAN CHAR ISLAND

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on


India's interests, Indian diaspora.
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Context:
• Rohingya refugees in
Bangladesh have agreed to
be relocated to the newly
built camp on the Bhashan
Char Island.

About Rohingyas:
• Rohingya are an ethnic group,
largely comprising Muslims,
who predominantly live in the
Western Myanmar province
of Rakhine.
• In Myanmar, they are they
are classified as resident
foreigners or as associate
citizens.
• Lakhs of Rohingyas have fled
to neighbouring countries like
Bangladesh and India after
facing religious and ethnical persecution in Myanmar.
• This has led to a historic migration crisis and a large humanitarian crisis.

About Bhashan Char Island:


• The Bhashan Char is an uninhabited island around 30 kilometre east of Hatiya island in the South
East Bangladesh.
• Bhashan Char island was formed about two decades ago on the mouth of river Meghna.
• The Island falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclone.
• However, the Bangladesh government has built a three metre high embankment along its
perimeter to keep out tidal surges during cyclones.

128. NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT (NAM)

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure,


mandate.
Context:
• Vice-President of India will represent India at the 18th Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in
Baku, Azerbaijan marking the second time that Indian PM will skip the summit.

About the NAM:


• The concept of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) originated in 1955 at the Asia-Africa Bandung
Conference held in Indonesia.

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• The NAM was formed after the Second World War


by countries that did not seek to formally align
themselves with either the United States or the
Soviet Union but sought to remain independent or
neutral.
• The first NAM Summit Conference took place in
Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1961.
• The NAM was created by the heads of Yugoslavia,
India, Egypt, Ghana and Indonesia.
• It consists of 120 members states.
• There are 17 countries and 10 international
organizations that are Observers at NAM.

About India and NAM:


• India has been one of the leaders of the movement since the beginning of NAM.
• NAM had played an important role during the Cold War years in furthering many of the causes
that India advocated like Decolonisation, End to apartheid, Global nuclear disarmament among
others.
• But it could not prevent India-Pakistan and Indo-China wars.
• During the war, NAM members adopted diplomatic positions that were not favourable towards
or supportive of India.

Highlights:
• According to the critics, NAM is no longer relevant because of the changed international
environment from bi-polar to unipolar and now multi polar.
• Emergence of new regional groupings like the G20, BRICS which have clearly laid down scope and
objective of engagement and outcome overshadows NAM.
• Most of the NAM countries are facing domestic political, social and economic crisis.

129. CAPE TOWN AGREEMENT

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.
Context:
• India is yet to ratify the Cape Town Agreement which was adopted by the International Maritime
Organization (IMO) for safety of fishing vessels.
• The Cape Town Agreement was adopted by the IMO in 2012 to help combat illegal, unregulated
and unreported (IUU) fishing.

About the Agreement:


• The agreement is aimed at facilitating better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and
coastal states.
• It includes mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 meters (79 feet) in length and over.

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• It covers key parameters


such as stability and
associated
seaworthiness,
machinery, and electrical
installations, life-saving
appliances,
communications
equipment, fire
protection and fishing
vessel construction.
• The agreement will enter
into force 12 months
after at least 22 nations with an aggregate of 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 metres and over in length
operating on the high seas will express their consent to be bound by it.
• However, till now only 13 countries have ratified the Cape Town Agreement.

About Torremolinos declaration:


• The Torremolinos declaration aims to ensure that the 2012 Cape Town Agreement will enter into
force by the 10th anniversary of its adoption, on October 11, 2022.
• A total of 46 countries have signed this declaration to indicate their determination to ratify the
2012 Cape Town Agreement.

About IMO:
• The International Maritime Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
• It currently has 174 Member States.
• IMO is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and
to prevent pollution from ships.
• It is also involved in legal matters, including liability and compensation issues and the facilitation
of international maritime traffic.

130. GLOBAL MOBILITY REPORT

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure,


mandate.
Context:
• Global mobility report has been released by the Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative.

About SuM4All:
• The SuM4All initiative was launched in 2017.
• It is an umbrella platform that brings together 55 public and private organisations and companies
to act collectively to implement the SDGs and transform the transport sector.

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• The report has analysed mobility performances of 183countries on four key indicators which are
(a) universal access (b) efficiency (c)green mobility and (d)safety.

Highlights:
• The report has said that the global mobility system is
stressed due to growing urbanisation, increasing
world trade and new technologies.
• Developed countries outperformed developing
countries on all mobility policy goals except per
capita transport-related greenhouse gas emissions.
• The gap between developed and developing
countries is more striking on safety and air pollution
placing a higher burden on developing countries.
• More than one billion people or one-third of the
global rural population, lack access to all-weather
roads and transport services.
• Hence, closing the transport access gap in rural areas
can connect this population to education, health and
jobs.
• Besides, improvements in border administration,
transport and communication infrastructure can also increase global gross domestic product
(GDP) by up to $2.6 trillion.

131. INDIA, SAUDI ARABIA TO SIGN


STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP COUNCIL PACT

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Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
and/or affecting India's interests.
Context:
• India and Saudi Arabia are set to sign an agreement for creating a bilateral strategic partnership
council.

About the strategic council:


• The strategic partnership council will be led by Indian Prime minister and Saudi Crown Prince and
it will meet every two years.
• The council will include multiple sections involving the External Affairs Ministry and NITI Aayog
and counterpart organisations from Saudi Arabia.

About Future Investment Initiative (FII):


• Indian Prime Minister will also be attending the third session of Future Investment Initiative
Forum in Saudi Arabia.
• Future Investment Initiative (FII) is an annual investment forum organized by the Public
Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
• It was first conducted in 2017.
• The first event had announced the
launch of a 500 billion USD economic
zone in north west of Saudi Arabia.

Highlights:
• Saudi Arabia is a key pillar of India’s
energy security.
• Around 17% of crude oil and 32% of
LPG requirements of India are
imported from Saudi Arabia.
• The trade between the countries
amount to 27.48 billion USD (2017-18).
• The Indian exports to the country
stood at 22.06 billion USD while the imports were 5.41 billion USD.

132. GLOBAL PENSION INDEX

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure,


mandate.
Context:
• India has improved it’s ranking in the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index.

About Global Pension Index:

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• The index is published by the Australian Centre for Financial Studies (ACFS) in collaboration with
Mercer with most of the funding from the State Government of Victoria.
• The primary objective of this research is to benchmark each country’s retirement income system.
• It covers 37 countries, is based on how they fare on providing pension and retirement benefits to
citizens across different income groups.

Highlights:
• The overall index was topped by Netherlands followed by Denmark.
• While Thailand was ranked at the lowest position.
• India stood at 32nd position in 2019 out of 37 countries from the 33rd place in 2018 out of 34
countries in the list.
• India’s ranking increased largely due to the improvement in all three sub-indices of adequacy,
sustainability and integrity.
• The index referred to India’s draft wages and social security reforms that have been initiated by
the government which indicates the intent of the policymakers in creating an inclusive and
sustainable pension system.

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133. SCHEDULED CASTE AND SCHEDULED TRIBE (PREVENTION


OF ATROCITIES) ACT, 1989

Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the


protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Context:
• Correcting an error of judgment, the Supreme Court recalled its March 20, 2018 verdict,
which bent the written law to protect persons accused of committing atrocities against the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
• On March 20, a judgment by Justice (now retired) A.K. Goel diluted the Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, to grant anticipatory bail to
accused persons and directed that the police should conduct a preliminary enquiry on
whether complaint under the 1989 law is “frivolous or motivated” before registering a case.
• Both conditions were not part of the original legislation.

Background:
• Justice Goel had reasoned that members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
(SC/ST) use the 1989 law to lodge false complaints, leading to the arrest of innocent persons.
• The March 20 judgment had triggered widespread protests and violence and compelled the
government to amend the Act to negate the effect of the apex court ruling.
• The Centre also filed a review against the judgment.

Observations:
• In its judgment on the government’s review petition, a three-judge Bench of Justices Arun
Mishra, M.R. Shah and B.R. Gavai reasoned that human failing and not caste is the reason
behind the lodging of false criminal complaints.
• The Supreme Court condemned its own earlier judgment, saying it was against “basic human
dignity” to treat all SC/ST community members as “a liar or crook.”
• Caste of a person cannot be a cause for lodging a false report, Justice Mishra, who wrote the
verdict, observed.
• Members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, due to backwardness, cannot even
muster the courage to lodge an FIR, much less, a false one, the judgment noted.

About the act:


• The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an Act of the
Parliament of India enacted to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled
tribes.
• It was enacted when the provisions of the existing laws (such as the Protection of Civil Rights
Act 1955 and Indian Penal Code) were found to be inadequate to check these crimes (defined
as ‘atrocities’ in the Act).
• Recognising the continuing gross indignities and offences against Scheduled Castes and Tribes,
the Parliament passed the ‘Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)
Act 1989.

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• It provides for
criminal liability for
a number of
specifically defined
atrocities, and
extends the scope
of certain
categories of
penalizations given
in the Indian Penal
Code (IPC).
• It also contains
provisions for relief
and compensation
for victims of
atrocities and provisions that establish special authorities for the implementation and
monitoring of the Act.

134. VILLAGE SECRETARIAT PROGRAMME

Topic: Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters.

Context:
• The Andhra govt appointed over 1.26 lakh employees, claimed to be the first of its kind in the
country in terms of numbers in a single recruitment drive, under a new governance initiative
of Village and Ward Secretariats.
• The idea behind them is to ensure that govt's services reach people on the ground and also to
strengthen the existing Panchayat Raj system.
• A TDP leader accuses the new system of having 'political overtones' to create a vote bank for
the YSRCP govt.

Background:
• While the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) has maintained that this will make
government services more accessible, the system, however, is in complete contrast to
the earlier trajectory of the state, which had been pushing for e-governance or online
services instead under former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Highlights:
• Under the new system, the AP government, led by Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan
Reddy, one Village Secretariat has been set up for every population of 2,000, with each
one comprising close to a dozen village officials (from different departments like
police, revenue, etc).

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• The idea behind it, according to the state


government, is to ensure that its services
reach people on the ground, and also to
strengthen the existing Panchayat Raj
system.
• The cost of hiring about 1.26 lakh new
employees is going to be roughly
about ₹2,200 crore a year for the AP
government.
• Aside from this, the state has also hired
another two lakh Village Volunteers, with
each of them being paid ₹5,000 per month, with the job of assisting people in availing
government services (each volunteer to look after 50 households).

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135. WHY AMIT SHAH WANTS TO AMEND THE CITIZENSHIP


ACT BEFORE UNDERTAKING COUNTRYWIDE NRC?

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various


sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context:
• Union Home Minister has said that the government would first amend the existing
citizenship norms by passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill before it implements a
nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Background:
• If the citizenship bill is passed before NRC, then illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs,
Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will be
eligible for Indian citizenship and
would not be excluded from the
National Register of Citizens.

About the Act:


• The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
amends the Citizenship Act, 1955.
• It seeks to make illegal migrants who
are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains,
Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for Indian
citizenship.
• The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to
six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.
• The bill has been criticised as it seeks to make illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the
basis of religion – a move that may violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which
guarantees the right to equality.

About NRC:
• Till date, Assam is the only state that has implemented the National Register of Citizens.
• The NRC defines all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion on the basis of a cutoff date in
Assam which was set to be March 24, 1971.
• To claim citizenship, individuals had to prove that either they or their ancestors were Indian
citizens before March 1971.
• The updated NRC was published on August 31, 2019.
• Over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final list.

136. BRU TRIBE REPARTIATION ISSUE

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas.

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Context:
• Mizoram Bru refugees
housed in makeshift
camps in north Tripura
stalled another
repatriation initiative.
• Hundreds of women
inmates dressed in
black fatigues and
carrying black flags
staged noisy protests
around the vehicles
sent by Mizoram
government to take
back the refugees.

Background:
• A conflict with the majority Mizos in 1995 made influential organisations like the Mizo Zirlai Pawl
(students’ union) demand that the Brus, labelled a non-indigenous tribe, be deleted from
Mizoram’s electoral rolls.
• As a consequence to this, an armed movement began by the extremist Bru National Liberation
Front. This armed movement killed a Mizo forest official on October 21, 1997.
• Further, many Bru villages were burnt down and scores were allegedly raped and killed.

Highlights:
• Nearly 40,000 Brus fled to North Tripura where they were given shelter in relief camps.
• Most of the refugees were from Mamit and a few from Kolasib and Lunglei.
• Resistance by Mizo NGOs to their return made the refugees relevant only during elections, with
Mizoram official’s crossing over to Tripura for facilitating their franchise.
• Centre signed an agreement with the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum and the
governments of Mizoram and Tripura for repatriation of Bru families to Mizoram.
• The package covers 32,876 members of 5,407 Bru families, entailing a one-time assistance of Rs.4
lakh in fixed deposit within a month of repatriation, monthly assistance of Rs.5,000 through direct
benefit transfer, free rations for two years, and Rs.1.5 lakh in three instalments for building
houses.

137. PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


Context:
• Parliamentary Committee on Finance has agreed to deliberate on the state of economy as the
first subject to be taken up at its next meeting on October 17,2019.

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• The Parliamentary committees are established to study and deal with various matters that
cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume.
• They also monitor the functioning of the executive branch.

Types of Parliamentary committees:


• The Standing committees are elected or appointed periodically and they work on a continuous
basis.
• Ad hoc or select committees are created on a temporary basis as the need arises and they are
dissolved after they complete the task assigned to them.

About the powers and report:


• Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament
members) and Article 118(on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure
and conduct of business).
• The Committee reports are usually exhaustive and provide authentic information on matters
related to governance.
• The bills that are referred to committees are returned to the House with significant value
addition.
• Parliament is not bound by recommendations of committees.

It’s Importance:
• The Committees do a detailed discussion and analysis on a proposed law which allows every law
to be beneficial for the citizens.
• Parliamentary committees ensure executive accountability through scrutiny of public spending
and various laws.
• Committee allows members for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in
open Houses where party positions take precedence. This allows them to take better decisions on
policies.

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• Committees allow use of input and suggestions of various expertise on the subject matter of law
thereby helping to formulate better policies and laws.

138. TASK FORCE TO IMPROVE INDIA’S RIGHTS RECORD

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues
relating to poverty and hunger.
Context:
• Government is forming a task force to prepare a National Action Plan on Human Rights (NAPHR)
as mandated under the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
• UPR is a state-driven process under UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC).

About Universal Periodic Review (UPR):


• It provides opportunities to member states to declare what actions they have taken to
improve human rights and to fulfil their obligations.
• A review cycle lasts four-and-half years, during which records of member states are
reviewed.
• In 2017, India had accepted 152 out of 250 recommendations on human rights.
• These pertain to sustainable development goals related to eliminating poverty, access to
safe drinking water, sanitation and improving protection for women and children.

About the task force:


• The task force will involve the Union Home Ministry and the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC) and have representatives from ministries such as social justice and health.
• National Action Plan on Human Rights (NAPHR) once implemented, will help mitigate the
criticism India faces at international level when it comes to its human rights record as well as
strengthen the social justice system.
• It will also lead to stronger administration of justice, strengthening of human rights
institutions, and linking of rights with development.

About NHRC:
• The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body.
• It was established under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
• NHRC deals with promotion and protection of human rights.

About UNHRC:
• The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body.
• It was established in 2006.
• Its mission is to promote and protect human rights around the globe as well as investigate
alleged human rights violations.
• The UNHRC has 47 members elected on a regional group basis from 5 groups.

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• The members are elected for a period of three years with a maximum of two consecutive
terms.

139. DRAFT ARMS


(AMENDMENT) BILL

Topic: Government policies and


interventions for development in
various sectors and issues arising out
of their design and implementation.
Context:
• Union Home Ministry has released a Draft
Arms (Amendment) Bill.
• It amends the Arms Act, 1959.

About the features of the bill:


• The bill proposes an amendment to convict makers and users of illegal arms.
• It says that the makers of prohibited arms and those carrying such arms have to spend the
remainder of their life in prison if convicted.
• The bill also says that anyone possessing more than 2licensed gun has to deposit the third one
with the authorities.
• The amendment also categorizes illegal import of guns and their sales as illicit trade.
• A sports person can possess a third weapon of 0.22 calibre rifle only if the user is a dedicated
sports person whose participation is recognized in national and international events in the last 2
years.

About the Arms Act, 1959:


• The act was legislated to consolidate and amend the laws related to arms and ammunition.
• It replaced the Arms Act1878.
• The act has undergone many changes since 1959.
• The most recent change in the act was done in 2010 through an amendment for the arms act.
• The act briefs rules and regulations about acquisition, manufacture, possession, sale, and import
and export ammunition in India.
• It also provides provisions related to licenses.
• The act lists the punishments associated with breaking rules related to the act.
• It also provides details on powers that the officials possess to enact it.

140. RTI PORTAL

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-


governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;
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citizens charters,
transparency & accountability
and institutional and other
measures.
Context:
• The Supreme Court has asked the
Centre and state governments to
file reply on a plea seeking direction
to establish Right to Information
(RTI) web portals in all states to
enable citizens, especially those
living abroad, to file RTI applications
online.
• The plea has said that the Centre has established an online RTI portal in which any Indian citizen,
including NRIs, can apply for information under the RTI Act with the desired ministry or
department.

Background:
• It also noted that the Centre in December 2013 had requested state governments to
explore the feasibility of implementing online RTI in their respective state.
• However, only Maharashtra and Delhi have established portals for that so far.
• The online RTI portals would enable people to electronically apply for the required
information instead of filing applications physically.
• The present system of physical RTI applications makes it difficult, inconvenient, and costly
and leads to long delays, especially for NRIs who seeks information under RTI.

About RTI, 2005:


• RTI Act provides for timely disclosure of information by citizens from both central and State Public
Authorities. It seeks to empower citizens and promote accountability and transparency.
• Under the Act, Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their
structure and functioning.
• This includes
o disclosure on their organization
o functions and structure
o powers and duties of its officers and employees and
o Financial information

141. GOVERNMENT APPOINTS 3 NEW MEMBERS TO PMEAC

Topic: Indian Polity.


Context:

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• The government has appointed economists Neelkanth Mishra, Neelesh Shah and V. Anantha
Nageswaran to the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC).
• The moves come soon after the PMEAC was reconstituted, with the new members appointed for
two years.

About the members:


• Bibek Debroy remains the chairman of the PMEAC and Ratan Watal its Member-Secretary.
• Last month, the government announced
that it was appointing JP Morgan chief
economist for India Sajjid Chinoy to the
PMEAC.
• Erstwhile members Rathin Roy and
Shamika Ravi did not see their membership
getting extended.
• Mr. Mishra is managing director and India
equity strategist for Credit Suisse.
• Mr. Shah is managing director of Kotak
Mahindra Asset Management Company.
• Mr. Nageswaran is the dean of the IFMR
Graduate School of Business at Krea University.

142. INDIAN PENAL CODE

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various


sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context:
• The Central Government has constituted two committees comprising legal luminaries to overhaul
the Indian Penal Code (IPC) introduced by the British in 1860.

About Indian Penal Code, 1860:


• The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the official criminal code of India.
• It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law.
• The code was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of first law commission of India
established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay.
• The Code was passed into law in 1860.The Code came into operation in 1862.
• The Code has since been amended several times and is now supplemented by other criminal
provisions.

Highlights:
• The revamping of the code introduced by the British in1860 is necessary as it is primarily based
on the spirit of master and servant.

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• The complete overhaul is


needed as IPC has never
been amended in totality
after it has been framed.
• Only some additions and
deletions have been made.
• There is uneven punishment
for crimes of grievous
nature.
• For example snatching of
chains or bags on road.
• It could be life-threatening
in some cases but the
punishment is not
commensurate with the
gravity of the crime.

143. PRISON STATISTICS OF INDIA

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social


Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context:
• The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has released the report ‘Prison Statistics India 2017.’
• The majority of prisoners in India are under trial prisoners which means they have not yet been
pronounced guilty by a court of law.

About the report highlights:


• Among states, the highest percentage of under trial prisoners was in Meghalaya while the lowest
was in Mizoram.
• Among Union Territories, the highest was in Dadra and Nagar Haveli while the lowest was in
Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
• The actual capacity of the prisons has increased by 6.8% during the year 2015-2017.
• However, the nationwide occupancy rate in jails at the end of 2017 was 115.1%.
• Uttar Pradesh prisons are the most crowded followed by Chhattisgarh and Delhi.
• The number of deaths in prisons has increased marginally by 5.49% in 2017 when compared to
2015.
• The vacant posts in the jail administration constitute another major challenge for prisons across
the country.
• On average, only 68.8% sanctioned posts were filled at the end of 2017.

About NCRB:
• The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

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• The agency is responsible for collecting and


analysing crime data as defined by the Indian
Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws
(SLL).

144. REPLY TO PLEA FOR ENTRY OF WOMEN IN MOSQUES : SC

Topic: Social empowerment.

Context:
• The Supreme Court gave the government a week to respond to a petition by a Pune couple to
allow Entry of Women in Mosques and worship without gender discrimination.

Background:
• A Bench asked the government to respond to the petition filed by Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad and
Zuber Ahmad challenging the prohibition of entry of Muslim women into mosques as illegal and
a violation of their dignity.
• They asked the court to direct the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Central Waqf
Council to open the mosques to Muslim women.
• The court said it was compelled to hear the couple in the background of the verdict in the
Sabarimala temple case, in which the ban on women of a certain age was declared
unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Highlights:
• There should not be any gender discrimination, and allow Muslim women to pray in all mosques,
cutting across denominations.
• There is no such gender discrimination to offer worship in Mecca, the holy city,” the petition
said.
• At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under the Jamaat-e-Islami and
Mujahid denominations and are barred by the predominant Sunni faction.
• The petition argued that such a bar was “violative of Article 44 of the Constitution of India,
which encourages the state to secure a Uniform Civil Code for all citizens, by eliminating
discrepancies between various personal laws currently in force…”

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145. TRAI SUGGESTS CAPTIVE USE OF SPECTRUM FOR


RAILWAYS

Topic: Science and Technology.


Context:
• The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that 5 Mhz spectrum in the
premium 700 MHz band may be allotted to the Railways, albeit only for captive use in areas such
as passenger information display systems, live feed of video surveillance and IoT-based asset
monitoring services.

Background:
• In order to install an ultra-high-speed LTE-based communication corridor for train-ground and
train-train communication, the Railways had asked the Department of Telecommunications
(DoT) to reserve 15 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band.
• Following this, the DoT sought TRAI’s recommendation on administrative allotment of spectrum
to the Railways.
• Spectrum may be assigned to Indian Railways on administrative basis for captive use only and
not to offer any commercial services such as WiFi onboard,” TRAI said.
• The regulator also suggested that spectrum charges be levied on formula basis as prescribed by
DoT for royalty charges and licence fee for captive use.

About TRAI:
• The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a statutory body set up by the Government
of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
• It is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India.
• It consists of a Chairperson and not more than two full-time members and not more than two
part-time members.
• TRAI's mission is to create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in India to
enable the country to have a leading role in the emerging global information society.
• One of its main objectives is to provide a fair and transparent environment that promotes a level
playing field and facilitates fair competition in the market.
• TRAI regularly issues orders and directions on various subjects such as tariffs, interconnections,
quality of service, Direct To Home (DTH) services and mobile number portability .
• In order to increase broadband penetration in India, TRAI has proposed WANI (Wi-Fi Access
Network Interface) architecture.
• If implemented, it may lead to set up of Public Data Offices (PDOs) where Wi-FI Internet would
be available on demand.
• TRAI relates the same with PCOs which were used to do the voice calls and were very popular
hotspots before the mobile phones or home landlines became the ultimate mode of
communication.

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146. ACTIVISTS CRY FOUL AS GOVERNMENT NOTIFIES RTI


RULES

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-


governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;
citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other
measures.
Context:
• Activists decried new rules under the Right to Information Act that have reduced the tenure of
Information Commissioners from five years to three, saying the changes would affect their
independence.
• The government had notified the rules recently.

About the notified changes:


• The Right to Information (Term of Office, Salaries, Allowances and Other Terms and Conditions of
Service of Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commissioners in the Central Information
Commission, State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners in the
State Information Commission) Rules, 2019 notified by the Ministry of Personnel, Public
Grievances and Pensions set the tenure of Information Commissioners at three years.
• It gave the government the discretion to decide on “conditions of service” for which no express
provisions are made in the rules.
• The Chief Information Commissioner’s salary has been fixed at ₹2.5 lakh and an Information
Commissioner’s at ₹2.25 lakh.

Critics:
• Reacting to the notification, activists are of the view that government had amended the
RTI Act in July and had not issued the prescribed rules for nearly three months after the
amendment received the President’s assent on August 1.
• The rules had been drafted and promulgated in a “completely surreptitious manner in
flagrant violation” of the procedures laid down in the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy
of 2014.
• The policy requires all draft rules to be placed in the public domain for
comments/suggestions of people.
• The draft was not available in the public domain and no consultations were held with
members of the public.
• Among the new rules, the government has been given the “power to relax” their
provisions, which raised “serious concerns that the government could potentially invoke
these powers to determine different tenures for different Commissioners at the time of
appointment”.

About the issues:

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• Threatening independence:
The Opposition has argued
that the government’s
discretion in deciding tenure
and service condition will take
away the independence of the
RTI authorities.
• Can endanger
democracy: Independent
structures set up to regulate
and monitor the government
are vital to a democratic state
committed to delivering
justice and constitutional
guarantees.
• Can result in misuse of
power: Critics also argue that the government wants to curb the RTI because RTI is a constant
challenge to the misuse of power.
• Bypassing pre-legislative consultation: Critics also question the manner in which the
amendments are being pushed through without any citizen consultation, bypassing examination
by the standing committee demonstrates the desperation to pass the amendments without even
proper parliamentary scrutiny.

147. ATAL BHUJAL YOJANA (ABY)

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various


sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context:
• The World Bank-funded Atal Bhujal
Yojana(ABHY) is still waiting for the
Union Cabinet’s approval more than a
year after the World Bank board
approved it in June 2018.

About the scheme:


• Atal Bhujal Yojana is a 6000 crore World
Bank assisted Central Sector Scheme of
the Ministry of Water Resources, River
Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
• The scheme has been formulated by the government to address the criticality of groundwater
resources in a major part of the country.
• The scheme aims to improve groundwater management in priority areas in the country through
community participation.

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Highlights:
• The scheme envisages active participation of the communities in various activities such as
formation of Water User Associations, monitoring and disseminating ground water data among
others.
• The funding pattern is 50:50 between Government of India (Ministry Of Jalshakti) and World Bank.
• The identified over-exploited (OE) and water stressed areas for the implementation of the scheme
fall in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and
Uttar Pradesh.
• The scheme is to be implemented over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 but has not
yet started.

148. INDUSTRY 4.0

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and


effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology;
indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Context:
• A Pilot Project for ushering in ‘Industry 4.0’ in the railways has been launched at the Modern
Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli.
• The pilot project would be undertaken under the aegis of “Technology Mission for Indian
Railways (TMIR).

About the project:


• It would be implemented by a consortium of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Human
Resource Development and Ministry of Science & Technology.
• The project would be implemented on an investment sharing model for taking up
identified railway projects for applied research and use on Indian Railways
for advancement and modernization.

About Industry 4.0:


• The fourth Industrial Revolution describes the present technological age ongoing in 21st
century that has come up since the first such revolution took place in the 18th century.

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• It is a name given to the current trend of automation, inter-connectivity and data exchange in
manufacturing technologies to increase productivity.
• The 4th industrial revolution includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, big data
analytics, cloud computing, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, 3- D printing, and
autonomous vehicles among others.

About India’s role:


• India has become the fourth country in the world where World Economic Forum has opened
its centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution.
• Hence, India is preparing for a massive digital and technological transformation.
• The centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution works as a network that includes USA, China and

Japan.
• The centre would be based in Maharashtra and it has selected drones, artificial intelligence
and blockchain as the first three project areas.
• NITI Aayog will coordinate the partnership on behalf of the government and the work of the
centre among multiple ministries.

149. THE GANDHIAN CHALLENGE

Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context:
• On the 150th birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, AIM, NITI Aayog’s Atal Tinkering Labs
(ATL) and UNICEF India, including Generation Unlimited, have launched ‘The Gandhian
Challenge’.

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• This innovation challenge provides a


platform for every child across India to
ideate innovative solutions for a
sustainable India of their dreams,
using Gandhi’s principles.

Background:
• Ideas and solutions to the Gandhian
Challenge may be expressed through
broad categories: Art & Innovation
(Letters, poems, painting, videos and
photos, among others) and Science,
Technology & Innovation (Robotics, IoT, sensors and 3D printers, among others).

About Atal Innovation Mission (AIM):


• AIM is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and
entrepreneurship in the country.
• AIM’s objective is to develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in
different sectors of the economy, provide platform and collaboration opportunities for
different stakeholders, create awareness and create an umbrella structure to oversee
innovation ecosystem of the country.
• Six major initiatives of AIM:
o Atal Tinkering Labs-Creating problem-solving mindset across schools in India.
o Atal Incubation Centers-Fostering world class start-ups and adding a new dimension
to the incubator model.
o Atal New India Challenges-Fostering product innovations and aligning them to the
needs of various sectors/ministries.
o Mentor India Campaign- A national Mentor network in collaboration with public
sector, corporates and institutions, to support all the initiatives of the mission.
o Atal Community Innovation Center- To stimulate community centric innovation and
ideas in the unserved /underserved regions of the country including Tier 2 and Tier 3
cities.
o ARISE-To stimulate innovation and research in the MSME industry.

150. ONLINE CENSORSHIP

Topic: Social Media Networks & Internal Security.


Context:
• The Indian government is currently in the process of forming policies to regulate social media,
both to protect user privacy and to prevent the spread of hoaxes and false news.
• But they've been attempting to control social media posts for a long time before this.

Background:

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• Back in 2009, Google began tracking the takedown requests it would receive from
governments, and releasing those statistics in an annual report.
• Soon after, other online platforms like Facebook and Twitter began following suit.
• Now, UK technology research firm Comparitech has gone ahead and analysed all that
data, and they have a disturbing picture to paint for you.

Highlights:
• When it comes to takedown requests, which is basically a government telling a
platform that something needs to be pulled offline, there's one country that leads by
a large margin. And it's ours.
• According to the Comparitech report, India leads the list of countries with the most-
submitted takedown requests in the past decade.
• That's across multiple major platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and
Wikimedia.

151. MALWARE SMOMINRU

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-


technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Context:
• Malware Smominru whose incidence was first reported in 2017, continues to infect computers in
a big way.

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• The malware attacks infrastructure in a widely


distributed and complex way making it unlikely
to be taken down easily.

Background:
• The botnet relies on more than 20 dedicated
servers mostly located in the US, Malaysia and
Bulgaria.
• It is affecting nearly 4,700 computers every day
with over 90,000 computers affected globally in
August 2019.
• In its post-infection phase, it steals victim credentials and installs a Trojan module to propagate
inside the network.
• The malware also seems to have the ability to come back to hit the old victims if they fail to tackle
the problem completely.

About the Malware:


• Malware which means malicious software refers to any kind of software that is designed to cause
damage to a single computer, server or computer network.
• It is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive malicious software
including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and ransomware among others.

About Botnet:
• The term botnet is derived from the words robot and network.
• A bot in this case is a device infected by malware which then becomes part of a network of infected
devices controlled by a single attacker or attack group.
• The botnet malware typically looks for vulnerable devices across the internet, rather than
targeting specific individuals, companies or industries.

152. DIGITAL BHARAT DIGITAL


SANSKRITI

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-


governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;
citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other
measures.
Context:
• Union Ministry of State for Culture & Tourism has launched the E-Portal of Centre for Cultural
Resources and Training (CCRT) ‘Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti’.

About the Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti:

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• The ‘Digital
Bharat Digital
Sanskriti’ is an E-
portal that will
enable
dissemination of
cultural
education
through digital
interactive
medium into
classrooms all
over the country.
• The portal will
provide a
platform for
specifically
dropout children
so that they can
join the
mainstream and pursue their dreams by making a career out of be it music, painting, or any other
art forms.
• For this initiative, CCRT has tied up with Routes 2 Roots, an NGO for connecting seamlessly all the
CCRT Regional Centres.

About CCRT:
• The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) is an autonomous organisation under the
Ministry of Culture of Government of India.
• It was established in 1979 to support cultural education.
• The CCRT has its headquarters in New Delhi
• it functions as an autonomous organization under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Government
of India.

153. QUANTUM SUPREMACY

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and


effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology;
indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Context:
• Google has announced that it has achieved a breakthrough called quantum supremacy in
computing.
• The phrase quantum supremacy was coined in 2011 by John Preskill, Professor of Theoretical
Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

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About Quantum Supremacy:


• Quantum supremacy refers
to quantum computers being
able to solve a problem that a
classical computer cannot.
• It uses the principles of
quantum mechanics so that
they can easily tackle
computational problems that
are beyond the scope for the
classical computer.

About Quantum computing and


Traditional Computing:
• The quantum computing
differs from a traditional computing in the way the two store information.
• The traditional computer stores information in the form of binary bits that can process either ‘1’
or a ‘0’ at a time.
• On the other hand,Quantum computers compute in qubits or quantum bits which means it can
be put into a quantum state where they can simultaneously represent both 0 and 1.
• Google has claimed that its quantum computer named Sycamore, has completed the task in 200
seconds that would have been accomplished in 10,000 years by the world’s fastest
supercomputer named Summit.
Significance:
• Google have achieved only the development of an architecture of qubits and the demonstration
of its computing capabilities.
• Hence, there is still a long way from developing a quantum computer.
• However, quantum computer when created could revolutionise science research and
technological advances.
• It could boost areas like artificial intelligence leading to new energy sources and even to new
drug therapies.
• On the other hand, the quantum computing can also be a threat to national security.
• They could override the encryption that protects our computers and the data we use online.

154. AUTOMATED FACIAL RECOGNITION SYSTEM (AFRS)

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and


effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology;
indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Context:
• Government of India has asked the IT companies to send proposals to National Crime Record
Bureau (NCRB) to install world’s largest facial recognition system.
• The winner of the bids will create National Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS).

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About AFRS:
• Automated Facial Recognition System
involves a large database of photos as
well as videos of peoples’ faces and
biometric software.
• The software maps facial features of an
individual mathematically.
• It also stores the data as a faceprint in
the database.
• Then, a new image of an unidentified
person is often taken from CCTV footage
is compared to the existing database to find a match and identify the person.
• The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called neural
networks.
• Neural networks are a set of algorithms modeled loosely after the human brain that are designed
to recognize patterns.

Concerns:
• Cyber experts have cautioned that the Automated Facial Recognition System can be used as a
controlling tool by the government and transform India into a police state.
• In the absence of data protection law, Indian citizens will be more vulnerable to privacy abuses if
AFRS is used.
• The use of surveillance cameras and facial recognition constrict the rights of particular class of
people.
• Moreover, even facial recognition systems are not 100% accurate.
• Therefore, there can be chances of mistaken identity.

155. EDGE COMPUTING

Topic: Science and Technology.

Context:
• Recently, Nvidia has announced its edge computing platform to help telecom operators adopt
5G networks capable of supporting edge workloads.

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About Edge and Cloud Computing:


• Edge computing enables data to be analysed, processed and transferred at the edge of a
network.
• The idea is to analyse data locally closer to where it is stored, in real-time without latency rather
than send it far away to a centralised data centre.
• Cloud computing is the delivery of different services through the Internet.
• These resources include tools and applications like data storage, servers, databases, networking,
and software.
• Rather than keeping files on a proprietary hard drive or local storage device, cloud-based storage
makes it possible to save them to a remote database.

Difference between Cloud and


Edge Computing:
• The basic difference
between edge computing
and cloud computing lies in
the place where the data
processing takes place.
• Currently, the existing
Internet of Things (IoT)
systems perform all of their
computations in the cloud
using data centres.
• On the other hand, Edge
computing essentially
manages the massive
amounts of data generated by IoT devices by storing and processing data locally.
• The data doesn’t need to be sent over a network as soon as it processed and only important
data is sent.
• Hence, an edge computing network reduces the amount of data that travels over the network.

156. JIYO PARSI SCHEME

Topic: Social empowerment.


Context:
• The government is considering allocating more funds for the Jiyo Parsi scheme for the next
financial year.

About Jiyo Parsi Scheme:


• Jiyo Parsi is a Central Sector Scheme launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2013.

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• The main objective of the scheme is to


reverse the declining trend of Parsi
population by adopting a scientific protocol
and structured interventions, stabilize their
population and increase the population of
Parsis in India.
• The Scheme comprises of three
components (a) Advocacy Component,
(b)Health of the Community Component
and (c)Medical Component.

About the Parsis:


• Parsi are a group of followers in India who
follow the Zoroastrianism.
• The religion was founded by Prophet
Zoroaster (or Zarathustra).
• According to the Union Ministry of
Minority Affairs,the population of Parsis
has declined from about 114,000 in 1941 to
57,264 in 2011.
• Maharashtra has the highest Parsi population in the country followed by Gujarat.
• Infertility and late marriages are among the main reasons for the rapid decline in the Parsi
population.

157. INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL UNION NAMES


ASTEROID AFTER PANDIT JASRAJ

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their


structure, mandate.
Context:
• The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named an asteroid, discovered in 2006
after Indian classical singer Pandit Jasraj.
• Asteroid are relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.

About the asteroid:


• They can be as small as 1 kilometer (km) across or as large as 940 kilometers (about 583
miles) across.
• There are thousands of asteroids in our Solar System.
• Most of them can be found in an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Composition of Asteroids:
• NASA has classified asteroids based on their composition. Here is the classification:
o C-type (chondrite): such asteroids are made up of clay and silicate rocks.

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o S-types (stony): these are


composed of silicate
materials and nickel-iron.
o M-types: such asteroids
have a metallic
composition.

About IAU:
• The International Astronomical
Union (IAU) was founded in 1919.
• Its mission is to promote and
safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation.
• It serves as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial
bodies and surface features on them.

About Pandit Jasraj:


• Pandit Jasraj (b. 1930) is an exponent of Indian classical vocal music.
• Jasraj is the recipient of numerous awards, honours and titles including the prestigious
Padma Vibhushan and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

158. STARSHIP SPACECRAFT

Topic: Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics,


Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology.

Context:
• After CEO Elon Musk shared new details about its in-development Starship spacecraft,
SpaceX has updated its website with a new section dedicated to the fully reusable cargo
and passenger vehicle.
• The new Starship website also provides a bunch of info about Super Heavy, the first-stage
booster that will propel Starship to orbital altitudes and beyond.

Background:
• Starship, once complete, will be “world’s most powerful launch
vehicle,” according to SpaceX, with a cargo capacity of 100 metric tons (that’s
over 220,000 lbs) to Earth orbit.
• With orbital refueling, it’ll also be able to take its freight — and passengers — to
the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Highlights:
• Per the new Starship site, the final vehicle will be 160 feet tall (without
the booster) and 30 feet in diameter, with a propellant capacity of 1,200 metric
tons of liquid methane and liquid oxygen.

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• Payload, and crew


depending
on configuration, will
occupy the top third of
the rocket, while the
bottom two-thirds will
house the propellant and
six Raptor engines,
including three for
atmospheric flight and
three for propulsion in
space.
• At the top of the rocket there are two actuated (meaning you can control their
movement) fins that will move to orient the rocket for re-entry and landing.
• At the bottom, two large fins will also help produce drag, crucial for its controlled
descent.
• Starship will be made of stainless steel, and one half of its surface will be covered
in glass tiles to take the brunt of the worst of the heat upon atmospheric entry.

159. SATURN

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-


technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property
rights.
Context:
• Saturn has overtaken Jupiter as the planet with the most number of moons.
• The discovery of 20 new moons of Saturn has made Saturn the planet with the highest
number of moons (82) against 79 moons of Jupiter.

About the discovery:


• The moons were discovered using the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
• The discovery has been released by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet
Centre.
• Out of the 20 moons discovered, 17 of them orbit Saturn backwards.
• This is known as a retrograde direction.
• The other three moons orbit in a prograde direction which is the same direction as Saturn
rotates.

About the Moons in the Solar system:

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• A count of the moons listed on


the NASA website shows that
our Solar System’s planets
together have 205 confirmed
moons now.
• Saturn and Jupiter with 161
between them accounts for
nearly 80% of these.
• Another 20% are orbiting
Uranus (27) and Neptune (14).
• Of the remaining three moons,
one is Earth’s own while the
other two are with Mars.
• Mercury is so close to the Sun and its gravity that it wouldn’t be able to hold on to its own
moon.
• Any moon would most likely crash into Mercury or maybe go into orbit around the Sun and
eventually get pulled into it.
• However, it is not yet clear why Venus does not have a moon.
About the Telescope:
• Subaru Telescope is the telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
• It is located at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.
• It is an international association of professional astronomers.
• Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects, including
research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation.
• It was founded in 1919.
• It is headquartered in Paris, France.

160. GEMINI

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-


technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property
rights.
Context:
• Union Minister for Earth Sciences launched the Gagan Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for
Navigation and Information (GEMINI) device.
• GEMINI stands for Gagan Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for Navigation and Information.

Background:
• The device has been developed by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services
(INCOIS) and Airports Authority of India (AAI).
• It is electronically designed and manufactured by a private industry M/S Acord, Bangalore
under Make in India Program.

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About the device:


• The device will disseminate information about emergency situations, communication on
disaster warnings, potential fishing zones and ocean states forecasts to the fishermen.
• The device is exclusively designed for fishermen about disasters when they are 10 to 12 km
away from the coast.
• The GEMINI device receives and transfers the data received from GAGAN satellite to a mobile
through Bluetooth communication.
• A mobile application developed by INCOIS decodes and displays the information in nine
regional languages.

About GAGAN:
• GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) is a step by the Indian Government towards
initial Satellite-based Navigation Services in India.
• It is a system to improve the accuracy of a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver
by providing reference signals.
• The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have
collaborated to develop GAGAN as a regional Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS).
• GAGAN’s goal is to provide a navigation system to assist aircraft in accurate landing over the
Indian airspace and in the adjoining area and applicable to safety-to-life civil operations.
• GAGAN covers the area from Africa to Australia and has expansion capability for seamless
navigation services across the region.

About INCOIS:
• INCOIS is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
• It is located in Hyderabad & was established in 1999 under the MoES and is a unit of the Earth
System Science Organization (ESSO).
• It is mandated to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to
society, industry, government agencies and the scientific community.

About AAI:
• The Airports
Authority of India or
AAI is a statutory
body (created
through the Airports
Authority of India
Act, 1994) working
under the Ministry of
Civil Aviation.
• It is responsible for
creating, upgrading,
maintaining and
managing civil
aviation
infrastructure in India.

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• It provides Communication Navigation Surveillance / Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM)


services over Indian airspace and adjoining oceanic areas.

161. MARS HAD SALT LAKES SIMILAR TO EARTH : STUDY

Topic: Geography.
Context:
• Mars once had salt lakes that went through wet and dry phases similar to those on Earth,
according to a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
• This indicates that the red planet’s climate ‘dried out’ a long time.
• According to the researchers, over 3 billion years ago, the lake that was present in Gale Crater
— a rocky basin that is being explored with NASA’s Curiosity rover since 2012 — underwent
a drying episode possibly linked to the global drying of Mars.

Background:
• According to the researchers, including those from Texas A&M University in the U.S., liquid
water on Mars may have become unsustainable and evaporated as the planet’s atmosphere
and the pressure of the surface became thinner.
• The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, noted that over 3 billion years ago the
lake that was present in Gale Crater — an immense 95-mile-wide rocky basin that is being
explored with the NASA Curiosity rover since 2012 — underwent a drying episode possibly
linked to the global drying of Mars.

Highlights:
• The Gale Crater formed about 3.6 billion years ago when a meteor hit Mars, the study noted.
• “Since then, its geological terrains have recorded the history of Mars, and studies have shown
Gale Crater reveals signs that liquid water was present over its history, which is a key
ingredient of microbial life as we know it,” said co-author of the study Marion Nachon from
Texas A&M University.
• According to Ms. Nachon, the salt ponds eventually formed during these drying periods.
• “It is difficult to say exactly how large these ponds were, but the lake in Gale Crater was
present for long periods of time - from at least hundreds of years to perhaps tens of thousands
of years,” Mr. Nachon said.
• The researchers said that the salt ponds on Mars are similar to some found on the Earth such
as those in a region called Altiplano near the Bolivia-Peru border.
• Ms. Nachon added that the Altiplano is an arid, high-altitude plateau where rivers and
streams from mountain ranges “do not flow to the sea but lead to closed basins, similar to
what used to happen at Gale Crater on Mars”.
• This hydrology creates lakes with water levels heavily influenced by climate. During the arid
periods Altiplano lakes become shallow due to evaporation, and some even dry up entirely.
• According to the researchers, the climate on Mars may have similarly fluctuated between
wetter and drier periods.

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• The study also noted the types of chemical elements present in the liquid water that was
present at the red planet’s surface at the time, and the type of environmental changes any
potential life forms on Mars may have had to cope with, had they existed.

162. NEW CLASS OF QUANTUM MATERIALS FOR CLEAN


ENERGY TECHNOLOGY

Topic: Science and Technology.


Context:
• Researchers from IIT Bombay have discovered special properties in a class of materials called
“semi-Dirac metals” that have been recently talked about in the scientific literature.
• Examples of semi-Dirac metals are systems such as TiO2/V2O3 nanostructures.

Background:
• Through calculations, the researchers have shown that such materials would be transparent
to light of a given frequency and polarisation when it is incident along a particular direction.
• The material would be opaque to the same light when it falls on it from a different direction.
• There are many known applications for transparent conducting films – the common example
being touch screens used in mobiles.
• These results were published in Physical Review B.

About semi-Dirac materials:


• Optical conductivity is a measure of the opacity offered by the material to the passage of light
through it.
• Normal metals like gold and silver are good conductors of electricity.
• A key aspect that decides the quality of conduction is the way energy depends on the
momentum of electrons.
• Dirac metals differ from normal metals in that the energy depends linearly on the
momentum.
• This difference is responsible for their unique properties.
• Semi-Dirac metals behave like Dirac metals in one direction and like normal metals in the
perpendicular directions (since their microscopic structure is different along the two
directions).
• Within any material, charge carriers, such as electrons, acquire an effective mass which is
different from their bare mass depending on the nature of the material.
• The effective mass and the number of states available for the electron to occupy when it is
excited by an electric field, for example, determine the conductivity and other such
properties.
• This is also true of a semi-Dirac metal.
• In particular, the effective mass becomes zero for conduction along a special direction.
• With the advent of man-made 2D materials, such properties have become quite tailorable in
what comprises the active field of quantum materials.

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• One such example is that the


[energy-momentum] dispersion
relation can be linear, leading to
large velocities and vanishingly
small effective masses.

Highlights:
• The velocities can be over a100
times more than normal metals,
thus increasing the mobility and
currents that can be carried across
devices made of these so-called
Dirac materials.
• In the semi-Dirac metals, these properties are direction dependent.
• Thermoelectricity is a clean energy technology that uses waste heat to produce electricity
typically in low power applications.
• This technology is used in efficient cars, where it is used to keep lights on and to warm seats.
Spacecrafts like Voyager which are too far from the sun to use solar energy can make use of
thermoelectricity.
• The holy grail of thermoelectrics is to increase the heat-to electricity conversion efficiency,
for which there has been recent and tremendous interest due to the advent of nanomaterials
and quantum materials.

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