Dec. 31, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2019

ELECTRO-KINETIC STREAMING POTENTIAL
A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) has developed materials that can produce energy from flowing or stagnant water in households.

About:

  • The decentralised energy model involving a large number of small generation devices can generate energy in every household and the excess energy thus produced can be evacuated to energy-deficient areas nearby.

  • The team employed “electro-kinetic streaming potential” to harvest energy from flowing tap water and “contrasting inter-facial activities” entailing different types of semiconducting materials to generate power from stagnant water.

  • Under it, when fluids stream through tiny channels that are charged, they can generate an electrical voltage, which may be harnessed through miniaturised generators.

  • The electro-kinetic materials have not been harnessed until now.

Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2019

BELGAUM
Bus services between Kolhapur and Belgaum were suspended after the decades-old border dispute related to Belgaum between Maharashtra and Karnataka flared up again.

States Reorganisation Act of 1956:

  • The dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka over Belgaum and other border areas is a longstanding issue between the two states.

  • The erstwhile Bombay Presidency, a multilingual province, included the present-day Karnataka districts of Bijapur, Belgaum, Dharwar and Uttara-Kannada (previously North Kanara).

  • However, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, which divided states on linguistic and administrative lines, made Belgaum a part of the then Mysore State (renamed Karnataka in 1973).

Mahajan commission:

  • The Maharashtra government contested the inclusion and lodged a protest with the Centre in September 1957. This led to the formation of the Mahajan Commission under former Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in October 1966.

  • The Commission, which submitted its report in August 1967, recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.

  • Maharashtra rejected the report and continues to claim over 865 villages along the border, as well as Belgaum city, which are currently part of Karnataka.

History & Culture

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2019

INDIA STATE OF FOREST REPORT 2019
Union Environment Minister released the India State of Forest Report 2019 in New Delhi.

Key findings of the report:

  • The total tree and forest cover in the country has increased by 5,188 square kilometres in the last two years which includes an increase of 3,976 sq. km (0.56 per cent) of forest cover and 1,212 sq. km (1.29 per cent) of tree cover.

  • The total tree and forest cover is around 25 per cent of the geographical area of the country.

  • Karnataka tops the list of states followed by Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in terms of increase in forest cover.

  • Forest cover in the hill districts of the country is 2,84,006 sq. km, which is 40.30% of the total geographical area of these districts. The current assessment shows an increase of 544 sq. km (0.19 per cent) in 140 hill districts of the country.

  • There has been a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq. km (0.45%) in the north-east region. Except Assam and Tripura, all states in the region show a decrease in the forest cover.

Important Info :
  • India State of Forest Report 2019, an assessment of the country's forest resources, is a biennial report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI).
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2019

SDG INDIA INDEX 2019
NITI Aayog released the second edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index.

About:

  • The index documents the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards achieving the 2030 SDG targets.

  • It has been developed by NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics, United Nations in India, and Global Green Growth Institute.

  • The 2019 Index spans 16 out of 17 SDGs with a qualitative assessment on Goal 17. This marks an improvement over the 2018 Index, which covered only 13 goals.

  • Classification criteria based on SDG India Index score is as follows:
    • Aspirant: 0–49

    • Performer: 50–64

    • Front Runner: 65–99

    • Achiever: 100



  • If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies it has achieved the 2030 national targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the closer it is towards achieving the targets.

Key findings:

  • India’s composite score has improved from 57 in 2018 to 60 in 2019, thereby showing.

  • The maximum gains been made in Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation), 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure) and 7 (affordable and clean energy).

  • Kerala achieved the first rank in the composite SDG Index with a score of 70, followed by Himachal Pradesh at 69.

  • The biggest improvers since 2018 are UP (which has moved from the 29th position to the 23rd), Orissa (23rd to 15th), and Sikkim (15th to 7th).

Social Issues

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2019

e-GCA
Phase-1 services of the e-Governance (eGCA) project of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was launched by Ministry of Civil Aviation.

 

About:

The eGCA project is being implemented with TCS as Service Provider and PWC as Project Management Consultant.
The project has been conceptualized for automation of the processes and functions of DGCA.
The project envisages an end-to-end solution including various software applications, connectivity with all the regional offices, a ‘portal’ for dissemination of information and for providing online and speedy service delivery in a secure environment.
The eGCA project is expected to be completed by the end of year 2020.
With this launch, the issue of Commercial Pilot License (CPL-A) with Flight Radio Telephony Operators License (FRTOL) and Instrument Rating has been automated.
 The services were launched on the new DGCA website (www.dgca.gov.in).

 

 

Source : others
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2019

e-BCAS Project Training Module
Union Minister for Civil Aviation launched the Biometric enabled Centralised Access Control System (CACS) and ‘e-BCAS Project Training Module’ to enhance security and ease of doing business at airports.

About:

  • Covering 43 Airports of AAI and 5 Joint Venture airports at present, the CACS project is aimed to digitize the employee movement process at the airports.

  • The objective of the ‘e-BCAS Project: Training Module’ is to make all the activities in the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) transparent, user-friendly, and efficient and above all, the project intends to provide an ease of doing business with the stakeholders.

Important Info :

Do you know?

  • The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), is an attached office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (India). It is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
Economy

Dec. 30, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

POSHAN ABHIYAAN
According to an analysis of the data shared in Parliament, The State governments/UTs have utilised a mere 30% of the funds released under the Poshan Abhiyaan, or the National Nutrition Mission, since it was launched in 2017.

About:

  • Barring Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, none of the governments used even half of the sum granted in the past three years.

  • The five best performers in terms of fund utilisation were Mizoram (65.12%), Lakshadweep (61.08%), Bihar (55.17%), Himachal Pradesh (53.29%) and Meghalaya (48.37%).

  • The worst five performers were Punjab (0.45%), Karnataka (0.74%), Kerala (8.75%), Jharkhand (13.94%) and Assam (23.01%). 

Important Info :

Poshan Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission)?

  • The Poshan Abhiyaan, the Centre’s flagship programme, is aimed at improving nutritional outcomes among pregnant women, lactating mothers and children by reducing the level of stunting, underweight, anaemia and low birth weight by 2022.
  • It is meant to benefit more than 10 crore people.
  • It was launched in 2018 with a total budget of ₹9,046.17 crore for three years.
  • 50% of which is through budgetary support, which is further divided into 60:40 between the Centre and the States, 90:10 for the north-eastern region and the Himalayan States and 100% for the Union Territories without legislature.
  • The remaining 50% is from the World Bank or other multilateral development banks. As a result, the Centre’s total share will be ₹2,849.54 crore. 
Source : The Hindu
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

BANDHAVGARH TIGER RESERVE
Madhya Pradesh has got its first elephant colony in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.

About:

  • Bandhavgarh National Park is located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh.

  • Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968 and then became Tiger Reserve in 1993.

  • The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which was said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka. Hence the name Bandhavgarh (Sanskrit: Brother's Fort).

Important Info :
  • The ‘Tiger State’ of Madhya Pradesh, which in the 2019 census recorded the most number of estimated tigers at 526, thus securing the title.
Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

ADITYA-L1
In his 'Mann ki Baat' programme of AIR, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that ISRO is planning to launch a satellite called Aditya to study the sun.

About:

  • Objective: The probe named Aditya-L1 will be sent by PSLV-XL from Sriharikota to observe the solar corona, the outer layers of the Sun.

  • Its main payload is Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) which will study the diagnostic parameters of solar corona and dynamics and origin of Coronal Mass Ejections (3 visible and 1 Infra-Red channels).

  • Features: It will be inserted in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, which is 1.5 million km from the Earth.

  • Significance of Mission:
    • A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any eclipses.

    • Only NASA and ESA have successfully placed satellites at the L1 point as of date.

    • This will be the first Indian space mission to study the Sun.

    • It will be India’s third big extra-terrestrial outing after Moon and Mars. 



Important Info :

Lagrange Points:

  • A Lagrange point is a location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as Earth and the sun or Earth and the moon, equal the centrifugal force felt by a much smaller third body.
  • The interaction of the forces creates a point of equilibrium where a spacecraft may be "parked" to make observations. These points are named after Joseph-Louis Lagrange, an 18th-century mathematician.
  • Structure of Lagrange points in sun-earth system:
    • There are five such points, labeled L1 to L5, all in the orbital plane of the two large bodies. The first three are on the line connecting the two large bodies; the last two, L4 and L5, each form an equilateral triangle with the two large bodies.
    • The two latter points are stable, which implies that objects can orbit around them in a rotating coordinate system tied to the two large bodies.
Source : All India Radio
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

WORLD ECONOMIC LEAGUE TABLE 2020
The report titled 'World Economic League Table 2020' was released by the UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

Key findings:

  • India will overtake Germany to become fourth-largest economy in the world by the year 2026. India is all set to overtake Japan to become the third-largest economy by 2034.

  • India is also set to become a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2026, 2 years later than the government's target of 2024.

  • India has decisively overtaken both France and the UK to become the world's fifth-largest economy in 2019. 

Important Info :
  • The World Economic League Table is an annual calculation by Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) jointly published by CEBR and Global Construction Perspectives. The base data for 2019 is taken from the IMF World Economic Outlook. 
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

RATING SHOPPING
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has criticised Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) for allowing low-rated companies to do "rating shopping".

About:

  • According to RBI, Rating shopping refers to how, a company or a debt paper manages to get same or better rating from another agency within three months of it getting a poor rating.

  • In the 25th edition of the Financial Stability Report, RBI has warned of 'rating shopping' by companies for long-term bank loans based on indicative ratings given by CRAs which are not available to the banks or investors.

  • Rating agencies have been largely blamed for their lax policies and oversight for the 2008 global financial crisis.

  • A fortnight before IL&FS went belly up in September 2018, rating agencies India Ratings, Icra and Care had given its debt papers AAA/AA+ ratings. 

Source : Economic Times
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

ACCESSION DAY (JAMMU AND KASHMIR)
A new list of public holidays was issued by the Union Territory's General Administration Department on December 27.

About:

  • From 2020, people in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a public holiday on October 26 for the first time.

  • The day, which will be observed as Accession Day, marks the signing of the Instrument of Accession by the last Dogra ruler of J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh, with the then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten.

  • Like the UT of Ladakh, J&K has also dropped Martyr’s Day — which the erstwhile state observed on July 13 to mark the deaths of the 22 people who lost their lives when the Maharaja’s forces opened fire on them — and December 5, which marks the birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah, former prime minister and chief minister of J&K. 

Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

DRAKE PASSAGE
In a first, six rowers from four countries on December 25 crossed the Drake Passage, in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America. The project was dubbed “The Impossible Row.”

About:

  • The Drake Passage is located between Cape Horn at the tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. The passage is named after Sir Francis Drake, who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.

  • It is also the narrowest stretch in the Southern Ocean and spans approximately 800 km between the southern tip of South America and the northern tip of the West Antarctic Peninsula.

  • It is considered one of the roughest waterways in the world because here, layers of cold seawater from the south and warm seawater from the north collide to form powerful eddies.

Do you know?

  • The six men rowed for 12 days, 1 hour and 45 minutes, making it the first completely human-powered crossing of the passage, which was confirmed by the Guinness World Records (GWR).

  • As per the GWR, the row represents, among other firsts, the first row on the Southern Ocean, the first row across the Drake Passage and the first row to the Antarctic continent. 

Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

PREAMBLE
Many of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, have been marked by a reading of the Preamble, which is reflective of the essence of the Constitution of India.

About:

  • The original Preamble, adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, declared India a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”.

  • By the 42nd Amendment of 1976, the words “Socialist” and “Secular” were inserted; the Preamble now reads “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”.

  • The Preamble is based on the Objective Resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 13, 1946. The Resolution was adopted on January 22, 1947. 

Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

DADA SAHEB PHALKE AWARD
The President of India presented Dada Saheb Phalke Award to Amitabh Bachchan.

About:

  • Dadasaheb Phalke award, India's highest award in cinema, is presented annually by the Directorate of Film Festivals (an organisation set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting).

  • The award prize consists of a golden lotus, a cash prize of ₹10 lakh and a shawl.

  • The award is given to people for their "outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema".

  • It was first presented in 1969. The first recipient of the award was actress Devika Rani, “the first lady of Indian cinema.” 

Important Info :
  • Dadasaheb Phalke (1870–1944), was an Indian film-maker who directed India's first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra (1913). He is regarded as "the father of Indian cinema." 
Source : PIB
Awards and Recognitions

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2019

eBक्रय
Union Finance Minister launched eBक्रय for online auction of assets attached by banks.

About:

  • Public Sector Banks (PSBs) have attached assets worth over Rs. 2.3 lakh crore over the last three financial years.

  • To enable online auction by banks of attached assets transparently for improved realisation of value, eBक्रय, a common e-auction platform has been launched by the Finance Minister.

  • The platform is equipped with property search features and navigational links to all PSB e-auction sites, provides single-window access to information on properties up for e-auction as well as facility for comparison of similar properties. 

Source : PIB
Economy

Dec. 29, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Japan executed a Chinese man, Wei Wei, who was on death row for the slaying of a family of four. He was the first foreigner to be executed by Japan’s Ministry of Justice in over a decade.

About:

  • The global trend has largely been to move away from executions and death sentences.

  • According to Amnesty International, at least 690 executions were carried out in 20 countries in 2018, which is a decrease of over 31 per cent compared to 2017. The most executions were carried out in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Iraq.

  • The methods used to execute people included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

  • In 2018, while Burkina Faso abolished the death penalty, Gambia and Malaysia both declared an official moratorium on executions and in the US, the death penalty statute in the state of Washington was declared unconstitutional in October 2018.

  • As of 2018, while over 106 countries abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes, roughly 142 countries abolished the death penalty in law or practice. 

Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

STANDING COMMITTEE ON STATISTICS (SCES)
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has constituted a 28-member Standing Committee on Statistics (SCES) chaired by former Chief Statistician Pronab Sen.

About:

  • The high-level panel under Pronab Sen will review and develop the country’s surveys on employment, industry and services sector amid criticism of official statistics.

  • It will review the existing framework of data sources, indicators and definitions of index of industrial production, periodic labour force survey, time use survey, economic census and unorganised sector statistics, among others.

  • The SCES will subsume in it the four standing committees on labour force statistics, industrial statistics, services sector and unincorporated sector enterprises.

  • Earlier, in March this year, expressing concern over “political interference” in influencing statistical data in India, as many as 108 economists and social scientists had called for restoration of “institutional independence” and integrity to the statistical organisations. 

Source : Economic Times
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

DETENTION CENTRES
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she that will not allow any detention centre to operate in the State. Kerala also decided to put it on hold.

About:

  • The Centre has the power to deport foreign nationals staying illegally in the country under Section 3(2)(c) of The Foreigners Act, 1946.

  • State governments have also been entrusted under Article 258(1) of the Constitution to take similar steps.

  • In 1998, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked all States/UTs to restrict the movement of convicted foreign nationals who had completed their jail sentence and confine them detention centres/camps, pending confirmation of their nationality from the country concerned.

  • The centres are also used to hold foreigners who have been caught overstaying their visa term.

  • in January 2019, a detailed manual on “model detention centres” was circulated to make a distinction between “jails and detention centres”. 

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

SEMI-CLOSED PREPAID PAYMENT INSTRUMENT (PPI)
To give impetus to small value digital payments, RBI has decided to introduce a new type of semi-closed PPI.

About:

  • The PPI-MD is being modified to introduce this new type of PPI. The other instructions contained in the PPI-MD will be applicable to this type of PPI also.

  • The directive is issued under Section 18 read with Section 10(2) of Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 and is effective from the date of issuance of this circular. 

Salient features:

  • Such PPIs shall be issued by bank and non-bank PPI Issuers.

  • These PPIs shall be reloadable in nature and issued in card or electronic form. Loading / Reloading shall be only from a bank account.

  • The amount loaded in such PPIs during any month shall not exceed ₹ 10,000 and the total amount loaded during the financial year shall not exceed ₹ 1,20,000.

  • The amount outstanding at any point of time in such PPIs shall not exceed ₹ 10,000.

  • These PPIs shall be used only for purchase of goods and services and not for funds transfer.

  • The minimum detail PPIs existing as on the date of this circular can be converted to the above type of PPI, if desired by the PPI holder.

Important Info :
  • Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) can be used to buy goods and services as well as transferring/sending money to a friend, family, etc.
  • Some of the prominent PPIs include Paytm, Mobikwik (semi-closed system PPIs), Gift card (closed system PPIs), Travel/Debit/credit cards (open system PPIs).
  • Semi-closed wallets have a specific contract with the issuer to accept the payment instruments but do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption by the holder and which enables the procuring of goods & services which consist of financial services at a group of clearly recognized merchant locations/ establishments. 
Source : Economic Times
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

NATHU LA
In Sikkim, the Indian Army has rescued about 1,500 tourists who were stranded in Nathu La in eastern part of the state.

About:

  • Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas connecting Sikkim with Chumbi Valley of the Tibetan Plateau in China.

  • it is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India; the others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh at the trisection point of Uttarakhand–India, Nepal and China.

  • Nathu La pass was re-opened in 2006 to shorten the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and give a boost to Indo-China trade.

  • It is also one of the five officially agreed Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian Army and the People's Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies to improve relations. 

Source : All India Radio
Geography

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

MyGov
Central government's citizen engagement platform - MyGov has reached one crore registered users.

About:

  • MyGov is a citizen engagement platform founded by the Government of India to promote the active participation of Indian citizens in their country's governance and development.

  • It is aimed at creating a common platform for Indian citizens to "crowdsource governance ideas from citizens". Its users discuss and contribute to various government projects and plans.

  • The website is hosted and managed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

  • It was launched in 2014.

Source : All India Radio
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

MERCHANT DISCOUNT RATE (MDR)
Union Finance Minister has said that no Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) will be applicable on transactions through homegrown RuPay and UPI platforms beginning 1st of January next year.

About:

  • Department of Revenue (DoR) will soon notify RuPay and UPI as the prescribed mode of payment for digital transactions without any MDR.

  • Now all companies with a turnover of 50 crore rupees or more will be mandated to provide the facility of payment through RuPay Debit card and UPI QR code to their customers. All banks will also start a campaign to popularise RuPay Debit card and UPI. 

Important Info :
  • Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) is the cost paid by a merchant to a bank for accepting payment from their customers via digital means. The merchant discount rate is expressed in percentage of the transaction amount.
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

MULTIPLE STATE CAPITALS
The Andhra Pradesh cabinet deferred taking a decision on relocating the state capital to three separate locations.

About:

  • Earlier, on December 17, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy had hinted that Andhra Pradesh could have three decentralised capitals, on the lines of South Africa.

  • The new capital being developed at Amaravati, Reddy hinted, could become the “Legislative Capital”, port city Visakhapatnam the “Executive Capital” and Kurnool the “Judicial Capital”.

South Africa Model:

  • Three cities serve as capitals of the country– Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial).

  • This arrangement was a result of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in which Britain annexed the two Afrikaner speaking states -– the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (also called Transvaal Republic).

  • Cape of Good Hope then remained in the British Empire, becoming self-governing in 1872, and uniting with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa in 1910. 

Important Info :

Other examples of multiple capital cities:

  • In Sri Lanka, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the official capital and seat of national legislature, while Colombo is the de facto seat of national executive and judicial bodies.
  • Malaysia has its official and royal capital and seat of national legislature at Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya is the administrative centre and seat of national judiciary.
  • Among Indian states, Maharashtra has two capitals– Mumbai and Nagpur (which holds the winter session of the state assembly). Himachal Pradesh has capitals at Shimla and Dharamshala (winter). The former state of Jammu & Kashmir had Srinagar and Jammu (winter) as capitals. 
Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

SnowEx
For a better understanding of how much water is contained in each winter’s snowfall and how much will be available when it melts in the spring, NASA has launched a seasonal campaign — part of a five-year programme called SnowEx, initiated in 2016-17.

About:

  • SnowEx is a five year program initiated and funded by NASA.

  • The goal is to address the most important gaps in our snow remote sensing knowledge, and thus lay the groundwork for a future snow satellite mission

  • The geographical focus of SnowEx is proposed as North America, which contains the six broad snow climate categories identified in the literature: tundra (alpine or Arctic), taiga (Boreal forest), warm (temperate) forest, maritime, prairie, and ephemeral.

  • Within its geographic range, SnowEx assesses where snow has fallen, how much there is and how its characteristics change as it melts. 

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2019

CHRISTINA KOCH
NASA Astronaut Christina Koch created a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

About:

  • She surpassed the earlier record of 288 days in space as previously established by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2017.

  • When she arrives back on Earth in February 2020, she will have spent more than 300 days in space. She is onboard the International Space Station since 14th March 2019.

Source : All India Radio
Science & Tech

Dec. 28, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (IIT)
A German student at IIT Madras has said he was asked to leave India for participating in a protest against CAA and NRC. As it happens, IIT Madras was established with the help of West German technical expertise.

About:

  • Nehru wanted Indian engineering schools to be among the best in the world, so he enlisted some of the leading higher education institutions of the West to develop them.

  • The first IIT at Kharagpur in West Bengal established in 1951 drew faculty members from the US, UK, Ireland, France, USSR, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Poland.

  • For the second IIT at Bombay, UNESCO arranged the donation of equipment and technical expertise from the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries in 1956

  • The third IIT was set up at Madras in 1959 after West Germany offered assistance to set up the institute during Prime Minister Nehru’s visit to the country in 1956.

  • Established in 1959, IIT Kanpur was developed under a collaboration with American researchers. 

Source : Indian Express
Education

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

CENTRAL REPOSITORY OF INFORMATION ON LARGE CREDITS (CRILC)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed large cooperative banks to report all exposures of 5 crore rupees and more to the Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC). The move is aimed at early detection of financial distress.

About:

  • The RBI has created a CRILC of commercial banks, all India financial institutions and certain non-banking financial companies with multiple objectives, which, among others, include strengthening offsite supervision and early recognition of financial distress.

  • With a view to building a similar database of large credits extended by primary (urban) co-operative banks (UCBs), it has been decided to bring UCBs with assets of ₹500 crores and above under the CRILC reporting framework.  

Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

COLD-DAY CONDITION
This December, north India is feeling the cold much more than earlier. In Delhi, all days from December 14 to 27 fall into ‘cold day’ classification.

About:

  • A cold-day condition is said to prevail when the maximum temperature during the day is at least 4.5°C below normal. If the maximum temperature is at least 6.5°C below normal, it is classified as a severe cold day.

  • The cold wave usually arrives from the west, through the Western Disturbance wind system. This system is also responsible for causing rains in northern and northwestern parts, after having picked up moisture on its way from the Mediterranean Sea.

  • The intensity of the cold also depends on the amount of snowfall that happens in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and nearby areas. 

Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

AADHAAR
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) announced a new milestone achieved by the Aadhaar project – crossing of the 125 crore mark.

About:

  • Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained voluntarily by residents or passport holders of India, based on their biometric and demographic data.

  • The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in 2009 by the government of India, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

  • The data is gathered under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.

  • In September 2018, the Supreme court upheld the validity of the Aadhaar system. 

Source : All India Radio
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

LOSAR
People in Ladakh region celebrated Ladakhi New Year, Losar on December 27.

About:

  • Losar is a festival in Tibetan Buddhism.

  • The holiday is celebrated on various dates depending on location (Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan) tradition. The holiday is a new year's festival, celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. 

Source : All India Radio
Culture

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

COMPULSORY RENEWAL OF OCI CARDS GOES
The Union Home Ministry has relaxed the provisions for Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders that made it compulsory for those aged above 50 and below 20 to renew their cards on renewal of their passports.

About:

  • Several OCI card holders were not able to travel to India due to this and many were stopped by airlines and immigration authorities at various airports due to the mismatch.

  • According to a recent order, an OCI card holder is required to re-register each time a new passport is issued till 20 years of age and once after 50 years of age but re-issuance of OCI registration is not mandatory each time a new passport is issued between the ages of 21 and 50.

  • In order to facilitate OCI card holders, this requirement has been relaxed till 30th June 2020 as per MHA instructions dated December 17. The OCI cardholder should carry existing OCI card along with Old and New passport. 

Important Info :
  • OCI cardholders are given benefits on a par with non-Resident Indians in financial, economic and educational fields, except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
  • OCI cardholders are given free multiple entry and multi-purpose life-long visa to visit India and are also exempted from reporting to police authorities for any length of stay in India. 
Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

MiG-27
The last of Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG-27 was decommissioned at Jodhpur Air base, South West Air Command (SWAC) and entered the pages of history.

About:

  • The Russian origin aircraft was inducted in IAF in 1985 the IAF has flown 165 MiG-27 fighters and has been the backbone of ground attack fleet for the past four decades.

  • Why it has been decommissioned? Every aircraft has a life and though it had been upgraded it has completed its operational life cycle. There have been several technical issues reported by the pilots.

  • IAF has been gradually retiring the Russian MiG variants of fighters from service including the MiG-23 BN & MiG-23 MF and the pure MiG 27 have already retired earlier. The MiG-29 UPG will be operated by the IAF and the Indian Navy will operate two squadrons of the MiG-29K/KUB off its aircraft carriers. 

Important Info :
  • With decommissioning of the MiG-27, the number of IAF’s fighter squadron has gone down to 28 as compared to the authorised 42 squadrons to fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China. 
Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

NATIONAL ANTHEM
On December 27, 1911, the National Anthem was first sung at the Calcutta session of the Congress.

About:

  • ‘Jana Gana Mana’ is the first stanza of the Bengali hymn ‘Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata’, written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

  • A slightly varied version of the song was adopted by Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in 1941 as the national anthem, called ‘Shubh Sukh Chain’, which also became popular in India since.

  • On August 15, 1947, Captain Thakuri of the INA, who had given music to the ‘Subh Sukh Chain’ version, was invited to play with members of his orchestra group.

  • ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was adopted as the country’s National Anthem by the Constituent Assembly of India on January 24, 1950, the last day of its last session. 

Important Info :
  • Reverence to the National Anthem is a Fundamental duty in India. According to Article 51A (a) of the Constitution: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem”.
  • ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’, the Bangladeshi anthem, was written by Tagore to protest against the partition of Bengal by the British in 1905.
  • Sri Lanka’s “Sri Lanka Matha”, written by Ananda Samarakoon, was also influenced by Tagore. Some believe that Tagore wrote it in full. Thus in a way, National anthems of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are written by the same poet, Rabindranath Tagore. 
Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

SWAMI SHRADDHANAND
Arya Samaj observed the death anniversary of Arya Samaj Missionary Swami Shraddhanand who was assassinated by Abdul Rashid on December 23, 1926.

About:

  • Shraddhanand was born in 1856 at village Talwan in Jalandhar district in Punjab province. In the early 1880s, he came into contact with Swami Dayanand, the founder of the Arya Samaj.

  • Shraddhanand wrote a book called “Hindu Sangathan”.

  • By 1923, he focussed primarily on the shuddhi movement (re-conversion to Hinduism). In 1923, he became the president of Bhartiya Hindu Shuddhi Sabha, created with an aim of reconverting Muslims, specifically 'Malkana Rajputs' in the western United Province.

  • This brought him into direct confrontation with Muslim clerics and leaders of the time. 

Important Info :
  • Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement that was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay.
  • The movement believes in the infallible authority of the Vedas. the central objectives of Arya Samaj is to, “eradicate Ignorance (Agyan), Indigence or Poverty (Abhav) and Injustice (Anayay) from this earth. 
Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2019

YEAR END REVIEW 2019 - MINISTRY OF TEXTILES
Following initiatives are being taken by the Ministry of Textiles for promotion of this sector.

About:

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products to certify its purity in August this year.

  • Two new National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) campuses will be set up at Panchkula (Haryana) and Ranchi (Jharkhand). At present, NIFT has 16 Campuses all over India.

  • The Government is implementing the Scheme for Integrated Textile Park (SITP) which provides support for creation of world-class infrastructure facilities for setting up of textile units, with a Government of India grant up to 40% of the project cost. the share is 90% in North-east and hilly states.

  • The Government has approved a skill development scheme titled SAMARTH, a Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector, covering the entire value chain of the textile sector on pan India basis for a period of three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

  • Under Powertex India 4797 looms have been upgraded under the in-situ Upgradation Scheme for Plain Powerloom.

  • For the welfare of jute farmers the JUTE – ICARE (Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise) has been launched to promote scientific practices related to Jute Cultivation for Quality & Quantity improvements.

  • The Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS) is targeted at development of Mega Handloom Clusters in clearly identifiable geographical locations covering at least 15000 handlooms with the Government of India. 

Source : PIB
Economy
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