Dec. 31, 2020

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

AKASH MISSILE SYSTEM
Union Cabinet has approved export of Akash Missile System and has created a Committee for faster Approval of Defence Exports.

About:

  • Akash is a Surface to Air Missile with a range of 25 Kms. The missile was inducted in 2014 in IAF and in 2015 in Indian Army. Akash is country’s important missile with over 96 percent indigenisation.

  • After its induction in the Services, interest is shown in Akash missile by many friendly countries.

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

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

Important Info :

Committee for faster Approval of Defence Exports:

  • Besides Akash, there is interest coming in other major platforms like Coastal Surveillance System, Radars and Air platforms.
  • To provide faster approvals for export of such platforms, a Committee comprising of Raksha Mantri, External Affairs Minister and National Security Advisor has been created.
  • This Committee would authorise subsequent exports of major indigenous platforms to various countries. The Committee would also explore various available options including the Government-to-Government route.
Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

SAHAYAK-NG
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with Indian Navy conducted the successful maiden test trial of ‘SAHAYAK-NG’ India’s first indigenously designed and developed Air Dropped Container from IL 38SD aircraft (Indian Navy) off the coast of Goa.

About:

  • The trial was conducted by Indian Navy to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships which are deployed more than 2000 km from the coast.

  • It reduces the requirement of ships to come close to the coast to collect spares and stores.

  • Two DRDO laboratories i.e. Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam and ADRDE, Agra were involved in the development of SAHAYAK-NG container along the industry partner M/s Avantel for GPS integration.

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

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

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

ARGENTINA’S LAW ON ABORTION
Argentina’s Congress legalised abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy this week, in what was a ground-breaking decision in a country that has some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws.

About:

  • This change is historic and its implications may be witnessed beyond Argentina, in Latin America at large.

  • Prior to the passing of the bill, abortions were only permitted in cases of rape or when the woman’s health was at serious risk. Activists have been campaigning for years, calling for an overturning of this law that has been in existence since 1921.

  • The bill calls for greater autonomy for women over their own bodies and control of their reproductive rights, and also provides better healthcare for pregnant women and young mothers.

Source : Indian Express
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

INDIA - BHUTAN MOU ON COOPERATION IN THE PEACEFUL USES OF OUTER SPACE
The Union Cabinet approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of India and Bhutan on Cooperation in the peaceful users of outer space signed on November 19, 2020 by both sides at Bangalore/Thimpu and exchanged.

About:

  • This MoU shall enable India and Bhutan to pursue cooperation in potential interest areas, such as remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and application of space technology.

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

Source : Economic Times
International

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

ASHA-INDIA
On 1st January 2021, Prime Minister Modi will announce winners under Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators - India (ASHA-India) and give out annual awards for excellence in implementation of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana - Urban (PMAY-U) Mission.

ASHA-India

  • Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators - India (ASHA-India) aims to promote domestic research and entrepreneurship by providing incubation and acceleration support to potential future technologies.

  • Under ASHA-India initiative, five ASHA-India Centers have been set up for providing incubation and acceleration support.

  • The technologies, processes and materials identified through this initiative will provide a major fillip to young creative minds, start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Important Info :

PMAY-U Mission:

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

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

LIGHT HOUSE PROJECTS (LHPs)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of Light House Projects (LHPs) under Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC-India) at six sites across six States on 1st January 2021.

About:

  • The Light House Projects (LHPs) showcase the best of new-age alternate global technologies, materials and processes in the construction sector for the first time in the country at such a large scale.

  • They are being constructed under GHTC-India which envisages to provide an ecosystem for adoption of innovative technologies in the housing construction sector in a holistic manner.

  • The LHPs are being constructed at Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh).

  • They comprise about 1000 houses at each location along with allied infrastructure facilities.

  • These projects will demonstrate and deliver ready to live houses at an expedited pace within twelve months, as compared to conventional brick and mortar construction, and will be more economical, sustainable, of high quality and durability.

Important Info :
  • During the event, the Prime Minister will also release a certificate course on innovative construction technologies named NAVARITIH (New, Affordable, Validated, Research Innovation Technologies for Indian Housing) and a compendium of 54 innovative housing construction technologies identified through GHTC-India.
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

DEDICATED FREIGHT CORRIDOR
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 351-km section between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh for commercial operations of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC).

About:

  • The DFC consists of two arms. The section launched recently is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC that starts at Sohnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal.

  • The other arm is the around 1,500-km Western DFC from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai, touching all major ports along the way.

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

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

  • It is built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore through a loan from World Bank (which is funding a majority of the EDFC; the WDFC is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency).

Important Info :

Why is it important?

  • Around 70% of the freight trains currently running on the Indian Railway network are slated to shift to the freight corridors, leaving the paths open for more passenger trains.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

ANAEMIA
Indian women and children are overwhelmingly anaemic, according to the National Family Health Survey 2019-20 released earlier this month, and the condition is the most prevalent in the Himalayan cold desert.

About:

  • Anaemia is the condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or quantity of haemoglobin.

  • It can make one feel tired, cold, dizzy, irritable and short of breath, among other symptoms.

  • A diet which does not contain enough iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 is a common cause of anaemia.

  • Some other conditions that may lead to anaemia include pregnancy, heavy periods, blood disorders or cancer, inherited disorders and infectious diseases.

Anaemia in our country:

  • In 15 of these 22 states and UTs, more than half the children are anaemic. Similarly, more than 50 per cent women are anaemic in 14 of these states and UTs.

  • The proportion of anaemic children and women is comparatively lower in Lakshadweep, Kerala, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, and higher in Ladakh, Gujarat, J&K, and West Bengal, among others.

Important Info :

Cold desert region of the western Himalaya:

  • In the union territory of Ladakh, a whopping 92.5 per cent children, 92.8 per cent women and around 76 per cent men are anaemic in the given age groups, as per the survey.
  • In the adjoining Lahaul and Spiti district which lies in Himachal Pradesh, 91 per cent children and 82 per cent women are anaemic, the survey said.
  • Both these areas are part of the Himalayan cold desert. In J&K and in rest of Himachal, the prevalence of anaemia is comparatively lower.
  • The high prevalence of anaemia in the cold desert region could be due to short supply of fresh vegetables and fruits during the long winter each year.
Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

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

About:

  • Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in Gujarat state, located in the western Satpura Range south of the Narmada River.

  • It shares a common boundary with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Why are tribal communities protesting against the notification?

  • Firstly, as per the provisions of the notification, land falling in the eco-sensitive zone cannot be transferred for non-agricultural use for commercial, industrial or residential purposes. Any land that needs to be transferred can be done so only after approval from the state government.

  • Second, a process has been initiated to include the state government as the co-owner of the land in the 121 villages.

  • Third, they feel that it could dilute the “power” vested with villagers under the Panchayat (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, implemented in areas notified under Schedule V of the Constitution.

Source : Indian Express
Environment

Current Affairs
Dec. 31, 2020

ATTACHMENT OF PROPERTY
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued orders for the attachment of several properties belonging to former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister in connection with alleged money laundering in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) case.

Way Ahead:

  • The ED order would be valid for 180 days, during which time it must be confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). If it is not confirmed, the property would be automatically released from attachment.

  • And if it is, the accused can challenge the confirmation in the Appellate Tribunal within 45 days, and subsequently in the concerned High Court and the Supreme Court.

Important Info :

What does the law say on the attachment of property?

  • The purpose of attachment is to deprive an accused of the benefits of the attached asset. The law also provides for the property to remain out of bounds for the accused until the trial is complete.
  • Under PMLA, proceeds of crime — money generated out of a criminal activity — is attached on the directions of the ED Director. However, if that wealth is not available, the agency can attach property equivalent to that value.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Dec. 30, 2020

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

DIGITAL OCEAN
Union Minister of Earth Sciences inaugurated the web-based application “Digital Ocean (www.do.incois.gov.in)” developed by INCOIS of M/o Earth sciences.

About:

  • Digital Ocean is a first of its kind digital platform for Ocean Data Management.

  • It includes a set of applications developed to organize and present heterogeneous oceanographic data by adopting rapid advancements in geospatial technology.

  • It facilitates an online interactive web-based environment for data integration, 3D and 4D data visualization, data analysis to assess the evolution of oceanographic features, data fusion and multi-format download of disparate data from multiple sources

  • ‘Digital Ocean’ will help to share knowledge about the ocean with a wide range of users including research institutions, operational agencies, strategic users, academic community, maritime industry and policy makers. Digital Ocean also provides free access to information to the general public and the common man.

Important Info :

Significance:

  • It will play a central role in sustainable management of our oceans and expanding our ‘Blue Economy’ initiatives.
  • Further, the Digital Ocean will be promoted as a platform for capacity building on Ocean Data Management for all Indian Ocean Rim countries.
Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

RUTHENIUM-106
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai has developed Eye Cancer therapy in the form of the first indigenous Ruthenium 106 Plaque for treatment of Ocular Tumours.

About:

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

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

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

Important Info :

Ruthenium-106?

  • Ruthenium-106 is a radioactive form of the rare heavy metal ruthenium, which is a "platinum group" metal similar to platinum.
  • Ruthenium-106 is produced from the fission or splitting of uranium-235, the type of uranium used in nuclear fission reactors, so it's found in spent nuclear fuel.
  • It's used in medicine for cancer radiation therapy, especially for eye and skin tumours. It's also used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators that power satellites.
Source : Times of India
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

PROXIMA CENTAURI
Astronomers at the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project, started by the legendary physicist Stephen Hawking, have recently picked up an “intriguing” radio wave emission from the direction of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Sun.

About:

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

  • Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light-years away from the Sun – considered a close distance in cosmic terms.

  • Its mass is about an eighth of the Sun’s, and it is too dim to be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

Important Info :

Proxima b:

  • Proxima b, one of the two planets that revolve around the star, is the subject of significant curiosity.
  • Sized 1.2 times larger than Earth, and orbiting its star every 11 days, Proxima b lies in Proxima Centauri’s “Goldilocks zone” i.e. the area around a star where it is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface of surrounding planets (e.g. Earth is in the Sun’s Goldilocks zone).
  • However, this does not mean for sure that water is present on Proxima b. It could also be hostile to life, if its atmosphere has been stripped away by solar flares from Proxima Centauri.
Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

ZARI, ZARDOZI
Madhya Pradesh Government is organizing ‘Raag-Bhopali’ exhibition to promote Zari-Zardozi crafts of Bhopal.

About:

  • Embroidery done with metallic threads is called kalabattu and forms the zari.

  • The main zari production centres are Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

Process:

  • Here the metal ingots are melted into metal bars called pasa from which lengths are got by beating it after treatment.

  • This is then pulled through perforated steel plates to make it into wires, followed by the tarkashi process to make it thin with rubber and diamond dies.

  • The last stage is called badla where the wire is flattened and twisted with silk or cotton thread to become kasab or kalabattu.

Important Info :

Listed below are different kinds of zari work:

  • Zardozi: This is a heavy and more elaborate embroidery work which uses varieties of gold threads, spangles, beads and gota. It is used to embellish wedding outfits, heavy coats, cushions, curtains etc.
  • Kamdani : This is a lighter needlework which is done on lighter material like scarves, veils, and caps.
  • Mina Work : This is thus called owing to its resemblance with enamel work. The embroidery is done in gold.
Source : All India Radio
Culture

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

NATIONAL SUMMIT ON GOOD, REPLICABLE PRACTICES AND INNOVATIONS IN PUBLIC HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS IN INDIA
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare digitally inaugurated the 7th National Summit on Good, Replicable Practices through a video conference.

About:

  • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare holds the National Summit on Good, Replicable Practices and Innovations in Public Healthcare Systems in India.

  • While the first one was held in 2013 at Srinagar to recognize, showcase and document various best practices and innovations in public healthcare system, the last was held at Gand hinagar, Gujarat.

Important Info :
  • Union Minister of Health also launched New Health Management Information System (HMIS) along with the Operational Guidelines for TB services at AB-HWCs and the Operational Guidelines 2020 on Active Case Detection and Regular Surveillance for Leprosy.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has set a bold target of a TB-free India by 2025, five years ahead of the SDG targets of 2030.
Source : PIB
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

NEW BHAUPUR-NEW KHURJA SECTION OF EASTERN DEDICATED FREIGHT CORRIDOR
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the ambitious New Bhaupur-New Khurja section of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) in Uttar Pradesh.

About:

  • The 351-kilometre New Bhaupur- New Khurja section of EDFC is built at a cost of Rs. 5,750 crore and most of its part passes through Uttar Pradesh.

  • The section will decongest the existing Kanpur-Delhi main line and will enable Indian Railways to run faster trains.

  • The agro products of Uttar Pradesh will now reach at a faster speed to other parts of the country and it will increase the export capacity of the state which is a landlocked area and doesn’t have any port to send the items abroad.

Important Info :
  • The Prime Minister also inaugurated Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor’s Operation Control Centre at Prayagraj. This will act as the command centre for the entire route length of the EDFC.
  • Talking about the Operation Control Centre at Prayagraj Prime Minister said that it is equipped with state of the art facilities which are indigenously designed.
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

PREVENTING FINANCING OF PROLIFERATION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
The Turkish parliament passed a bill that would increase the monitoring of civil society groups. The act is called “Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

About:

  • The Bill has come following the 2019 report on Turkey prepared by the intergovernmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meant to fight money laundering and terror financing.

  • The bill consists of 43 articles and has made changes to seven laws on Turkey’s Law of Associations and is meant to keep Turkey from being blacklisted by the Paris-based watchdog of terror financing.

  • The Bill gives the Turkish government the power to appoint trustees to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to suspend their activities, seize their assets and monitor their sources of funding.

Important Info :

View of critics:

  • Critics are seeing certain provisions of the bill as arbitrary and believe that it violates the provisions under the Turkish constitution since it interferes with the right to freedom of association.
  • They are seeing this move as a way to crackdown on dissidents in a country where civil society is already not very free.
Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

NAUSHERA KA SHER
After it came to light that the grave of Naushera ka Sher Brigadier Mohammad Usman, the senior-most officer killed in the first India-Pakistan war of 1947-48, was damaged, an Army source said it was looking into the issue and the grave will be restored soon.

About:

  • Brigadier Mohammad Usman MVC (1912 – 1948) was one of only 18 Brigadiers in the Army at the time of Independence and was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his gallant action during the 1947-48 war.

  • In January–February 1948 Usman repulsed fierce attacks on Nowshera and Jhangar, both highly strategic locations in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • During the defence of Naushera against overwhelming odds and numbers, Indian forces inflicted around 2000 casualties on the Pakistanis while Indian forces suffered only 150 casualties. His defence earned him the nickname Lion of Naushera.

  • The grave is located on the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) campus in New Delhi. Brig. Usman’s funeral was done with full state honours and the prayer was led by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

Important Info :
  • Naushera is a town and tehsil in the Rajouri district in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Source : The Hindu
History

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

KISAN RAIL
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the 100th Kisan Rail train, which is also plying between Devlali and Danapur — a popular offering which has now been extended to run between Sangola to Muzaffarpur and has carried over 15,450 tonnes of produce.

About:

  • The Kisan Rail train carries vegetables such as cauliflower, capsicum, cabbage, drumsticks, chillies, onion, etc, as well as fruits like grapes, oranges, pomegranate, banana, custard apple.

  • The loading and unloading of perishable commodities will be permitted at all en route stoppages and no minimum or maximum size of consignment. The government has extended a subsidy of 50 per cent on transportation of fruits and vegetables.

  • The multi-commodity train service has been popular as it also carries relatively small quantities of produce brought in by small, individual farmers.

Important Info :

Progress:

  • So far, the Kisan Rail has run regularly on 10 routes. One route — between Yeshvantpur and Delhi — exhausted its seasonal demand a while ago.
  • Kisan Rail trains have ferried around 27,000 tonnes of produce so far, and half of the trips made so far were by trains running between Devlali in Maharashtra and Danapur in Bihar.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 30, 2020

INFLATION TARGET
Maintaining the inflation target at 4% is appropriate for India, according to a working paper titled “Measuring Trend Inflation in India” released by RBI.

About:

  • The paper seeks to estimate trend inflation in India to find the answer to a question that goes to the root of flexible inflation targeting (FIT) – is the choice of the target for inflation consistent with its trend?

  • The 4% target for inflation — with an upper tolerance limit of 6% and a lower limit of 2% — was set by the Centre in consultation with the RBI in 2016 and its validity expires on March 31, 2021.

  • The paper finds a steady decline in trend inflation to 4.1- 4.3% since 2014.

  • A target set too [significantly] below the trend imparts a deflationary bias to monetary policy because it will go into overkill relative to what the economy can intrinsically bear in order to achieve the target, the paper said.

  • Analogously, a target that is fixed above the trend renders monetary policy too expansionary and prone to inflationary shocks and unanchored expectations. Hence, maintaining the inflation target at 4% is appropriate for India.

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Dec. 29, 2020

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

NATIONAL COMMON MOBILITY CARD (NCMC)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated fully operational National Common Mobility Card service on the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro, which was started in Ahmedabad last year.

About:

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

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

  • NCMC will allow passengers with RuPay debit card, issued in the last 18 months by 23 banks to be swiped for Metro travel. This facility will become available on the entire Delhi Metro network by 2022.

  • NCMC is an automatic fare collection system. It will turn smartphones into an inter-operable transport card that commuters can use eventually to pay for Metro, bus and suburban railways services.

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

Important Info :

One Nation, One system examples:

  • Taking the example of the Common Mobility Card, the Prime Minister dwelled on the process of consolidating all the systems.
  • One Nation, One Fastag has made travel seamless on highways across the country.
  • One Nation, One Taxe. GST has ended the complications in the tax system and has brought uniformity in indirect tax system.
  • One Nation, One Power Grid, is ensuring adequate and continuous power availability in every part of the country.
  • With One Nation, One Gas Grid, Seamless Gas Connectivity is being ensured of the parts where gas-based life and economy used to be a dream earlier.
  • One Nation, One Health Insurance Scheme e. Ayushman Bharat through which millions of people from India are taking advantage anywhere in the country.
  • Citizens moving from one place to another have got freedom from the trouble of making new ration cards through One Nation, One Ration Card.
  • Similarly, the country is moving in the direction of One Nation, One Agriculture Market due to new agricultural reforms and arrangements like e-NAM.
Source : Hindustan Times
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

NMPB CONSORTIA FOR MEDICINAL PLANTS
National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH has launched Consortia for Medicinal Plants.

About:

  • NMPB envisages the necessity of connectivity between stakeholders in the supply chain and value chain of Medicinal Plants.

  • NMPB Consortia will address/deliberate (not limited to) on Quality Planting Material, Research & Development, Cultivation, Trade of medicinal plants/market linkage etc.

  • To establish the linkage between the farmers and manufacturers, a ‘Seed to Shelf’ approach is being introduced, wherein, aspects related to Quality Planting Materials (QPM), Good Agriculture Practices (GAP’s), Good Post Harvest Practices (GPHP’s) would be addressed.

  • In the first phase NMPB consortia is proposed for medicinal plant species - Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Pippali (Piper longum), Aonla (Phyllanthus emblica), Guggulu (Commiphora wightii), Satavari (Asparagus racemosus).

Source : PIB
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

PNEUMOSIL
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan inaugurated India's first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine "Pneumosil".

About:

  • It has been developed by the Serum Institute of India Private Limited (SIIPL) in collaboration with partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • SIIPL developed and got the license of the first indigenous Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) from the Government of India during COVID-19 pandemic lock-down.

  • This Indigenous Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine will be available in the market under the brand name "Pneumosil" at an affordable price in a single dose (vial and pre-filled syringe) and Multidose (vial) presentations.

  • Pneumosil is effective in the prevention of Pneumonia disease.

Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

SUNIL KOTHARI
Eminent dance scholar and critic Sunil Kothari, 87, passed away because of COVID-19-related complications.

About:

  • Sunil Kothari (1933 – 2020) was a noted Indian dance historian, scholar and critic.

  • He was instrumental in establishing the School of Arts and Aesthetics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and mentored many art scholars.

  • Books:
    • He has written 12 books on different forms of Indian classical dance and allied art-forms.

    • He wrote extensively on Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Manipuri dance forms.

    • His scholarly work, Sattriya: Classical Dance of Assam, helped in creating a better understanding of the dance form in the national and global circuit.

    • His other notable contributions include New Directions in Indian Dance and Kuchipudi Indian Classical Dance Art.



  • Awards:
    • He received Padma Shri award in 2001. He also received Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1995 for overall contribution to the Indian classical dance.

    • He was awarded a D.Litt. by the Rabindra Bharti University for his research on dance sculptures in the medieval temples of north Gujarat.



Source : The Hindu
Culture

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

HYPOTHERMIA
Predicting a severe cold wave in the national capital and several other parts of North India, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) urged residents of India’s northernmost states to protect themselves from the biting cold by avoiding alcohol.

IMD Advisory:

  • To avoid an adverse reaction to the cold wave, the IMD shared a list of recommendations, one of which was avoiding alcohol as it “reduces your body temperature”.

  • According to Health Experts, while alcohol may make you feel warmer, it actually reduces your body temperature and compromises your immunity if you then venture out into the cold.

  • Alcohol can decrease the core temperature of the body and increase the risk of hypothermia during cold exposure.

  • Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means that it causes blood vessels to relax and dilate or open. So after consuming alcohol, the volume of blood brought to the skin’s surface increases, making you feel warmer as a result.

Important Info :

Hypothermia:

  • Hypothermia is a severe medical condition where the body loses heat before it can generate it, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature.
  • While normal body temperature lies at around 37 degrees Celsius, the body temperature of a person suffering from hypothermia drops to below 35 degrees Celsius.
  • Common signs include shivering, slow rate of breathing, slurred speech, cold skin and fatigue.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption is often linked to an increased risk of hypothermia and other conditions linked to extreme cold weather.
Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

THERMOPOLIUM
Researchers have unearthed a thermopolium, Latin for hot drinks counter, in the Roman empire town of Pompeii, today one of the world’s largest and most significant archaeological sites.

About:

  • The snack food counter called the thermopolium at the Pompeii archaeological park’s Regio V was partially excavated in 2019.

  • It was found complete with an image of a Nereid riding a sea-horse, decorative still-life frescoes, food residues, animals bones and victims who died during the volcanic eruption of 79 CE.

Significance:

  • The find is significant because it shows the variety of food consumed by the residents of the town — traces of pork, fish, snails and beef have been found in the containers of the stall.

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

Important Info :
  • Pompeii was a Roman town in Southern Italy’s Campania region situated along the Bay of Naples. The town was completely buried by volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, over 2000 years ago.
Source : Indian Express
Culture

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

COUNTING THE COST 2020: A YEAR OF CLIMATE BREAKDOWN
A new global report in its analysis of 15 most destructive climate disasters of 2020 has found that nine of these extreme events, including two in India, caused damage worth at least $5 billion.

About:

  • The report, ‘Counting the Cost 2020: A Year of Climate Breakdown’ has been prepared by the UK based non-profit organisation Christian Aid.

  • Though hurricanes in the US and central American countries turned out to be the most expensive ($41 billion), floods in India during June-October period caused the loss of highest number of human lives.

  • In fact, India’s floods, which killed 2,067, caused loss of more human lives than casualties in all other 14 destructive climate disasters put together.

  • Floods in Pakistan which claimed 410 lives figured at second spot followed by the US and central American countries (400 lives lost in hurricanes) at the third position in the list of 15.

  • The cyclone ‘Amphan’, which struck the Bay of Bengal in May, had caused financial losses valued at $13 billion in just a few days in India and Bangladesh and caused loss of 128 human lives.

    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/2-of-15-most-destructive-2020-climate-disasters-impacted-india-says-report/articleshow/79984276.cms



Source : Times of India
Disaster Management

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

PORTULACA LALJII
Botanists have discovered a new species of wild sun rose from the Eastern Ghats in India.

About:

  • The new species, named Portulaca laljii, discovered from Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh has unique features such as a tuberous root, no hair in its leaf axils, a reddish pink flower, prolate-shaped fruits, and copper brown seeds without lustre.

  • The flowers are very attractive and bloom for months from June to February.

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

Important Info :
  • Portulaca laljii has been named to honour the contribution of Lal Ji Singh, an eminent botanist of the Botanical Survey of India associated with its Andaman and Nicobar Centre.
Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

R P TIWARI PANEL
The UGC set up a seven-member committee, headed by Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Punjab R P Tiwari, "to consider the issue (of) holding common entrance test at undergraduate level only from the next academic year. "

About:

  • The new National Education Policy (NEP), released in July this year, advocates reducing the number of entrance tests to “eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams”.

  • There are 40-odd central universities run by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and, collectively, all of them have about 1 to 1.25 lakh seats across different disciplines at the undergraduate level.

  • Of these, currently about 16 central universities, all set up under the UPA-II government, have a common entrance test for Bachelor’s study.

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

Source : Indian Express
Education

Current Affairs
Dec. 29, 2020

ZERO COUPON BONDS
The government has used financial innovation to recapitalise Punjab & Sind Bank by issuing the lender Rs 5,500-crore worth of non-interest bearing bonds valued at par.

About:

  • Punjab & Sind Bank MD and CEO said these are special types of zero coupon bonds issued by the government after proper due diligence and these are issued at par.

  • Since these bonds are not tradable, the lender has kept them in the Held-To-Maturity (HTM) bucket, not requiring it to book any mark-to-market gains or losses from these bonds.

  • Though these will earn no interest for the subscriber, market participants term it both a ‘financial illusion’ and ‘great innovation’ by the government where it is using Rs 100 to create an impact of Rs 200 in the economy.

  • Unlike the previous tranches of recapitalisation bonds which carried interest and were sold to different banks, these “non-interest bearing, non-transferable special GOI securities” have a maturity of 10-15 years and issued specifically to Punjab & Sind Bank.

Important Info :

How do they differ from zero coupon bonds issued by private firms?

  • Though zero coupon, these bonds are different from traditional zero coupon bonds on one account — as they are being issued at par, there is no interest; in previous cases, since they were issued at discount, they technically were interest bearing.
  • Zero coupon bonds by private companies are normally issued at discount, but since these special bonds are not tradable these can be issued at par.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Dec. 28, 2020

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

ICEBERG A68
The giant Antarctic iceberg A68a has become a cause for concern for South Georgia Island.

About:

  • The giant iceberg A68, the biggest block of free-floating ice from Antarctica with an area of about 5,800 sq. km, has been drifting in the Atlantic Ocean since 2017.

  • This year, due to an ocean current, the iceberg was propelled into the South Atlantic Ocean and since then it has been drifting towards the remote sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, which is a British Overseas Territory (BOT).

  • This has prompted fears about the impact the iceberg could have on the island’s abundant wildlife.

  • Icebergs travel with ocean currents and either get caught up in shallow waters or ground themselves.

  • Recently, US National Ice Center (USNIC) confirmed that two new icebergs calved from A68a and were large enough to be named and tracked. They are called A68E and A68F.

Important Info :
  • South Georgia is an island in the southern Atlantic Ocean that is part of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI). The main settlement is Grytviken.
  • The US National Ice Center (USNIC) is responsible for naming icebergs, which are named according to the Antarctic quadrant in which they are spotted.
Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

GOVERNOR’S ROLE IN CALLING AN ASSEMBLY SESSION
Kerala Governor has turned down a request by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to summon a special sitting of the Assembly to debate the new three central farm laws. This raises questions on the role of a Governor and the contours of the powers he or she has under the Constitution.

Who can summon a session of the Assembly?

  • According to Article 174 of the Constitution “The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit” .

  • The provision also puts on the Governor the responsibility of ensuring that the House is summoned at least once every six months.

  • Although it is the Governor’s prerogative to summon the House, according to Article 163, the Governor is required to act on the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet.

  • So when the Governor summons the House under Article 174, this is not of his or her own will but on the aid and advice of the Cabinet.

Important Info :

Can the Governor refuse the aid and advice of the Cabinet?

  • There are a few instances where the Governor can summon the House despite the refusal of the Chief Minister who heads the Cabinet.
  • When the Chief Minister appears to have lost the majority and the legislative members of the House propose a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister, then the Governor can decide on his or her own on summoning the House.
  • But the actions of the Governor, when using his discretionary powers can be challenged in court.
  • A number of rulings by the Supreme Court has settled the position that the Governor cannot refuse the request of a Cabinet that enjoys majority in the House unless it is patently unconstitutional.
Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

NUCLEAR REACTOR ON MOON
USA’s plan to have the first nuclear reactor on the moon by the end of 2026 — for which the US Department of Energy in collaboration with Nasa intends to solicit industry design proposals in early 2021 — got an impetus with a recent White House directive.

About:

  • On December 16, outgoing President Donald Trump, issued the “National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion”.

  • Under it, he asked Nasa to “initiate fission surface power project for lunar surface demonstration by 2027 with scalability to a power range of 40 kilowatt-electric and higher to support a sustained lunar presence and exploration of Mars”.

  • NASA aims to establish a flight hardware system that is ready for integrating with the lunar lander by 2026-end. The fission power system — as the nuclear reactor is called — will benefit future robotic and human exploration missions to the moon as well as Mars.

  • The availability of safe, efficient, and readily available power is critical to these missions and a fission surface power system meets those requirements.

  • The fission surface power system will be fully manufactured and assembled on earth and integrated on a lander as a payload.

  • The system — consisting of four major subsystems including a nuclear reactor, an electric power conversion unit, heat rejection array, and power management and distribution subsystem — will be designed to operate for up to 10 years.

Source : Times of India
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

MONPA HANDMADE PAPER
The 1000-year old heritage art – the Monpa Handmade Paper of Arunachal Pradesh – which was driven to the extinction, has come to life once again, with the committed efforts of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).

About:

  • The art of making Monpa handmade paper originated over 1000 years ago. Gradually the art became an integral part of local custom and culture in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Once produced in every household in Tawang, this handmade paper was a major source of livelihood for the locals.

  • The fine-textured handmade paper, which is called Mon Shugu in the local dialect, is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang.

  • The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries.

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

Important Info :

Revival:

  • However, the handmade paper industry almost disappeared in the last 100 years; prompting KVIC to plan revival of this ancient art. KVIC recently commissioned a Monpa handmade paper making unit in Tawang which aims at reviving the art.
Source : PIB
Culture

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

MARATHWADA RAIL COACH FACTORY
Indian Railways’ PSU, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) commissioned Marathwada Rail Coach Factory in Latur, Maharashtra with production of the first coach shell.

About:

  • Marathwada Rail Coach Factory is going to contribute in overall development of this region of Maharashtra.

  • This factory has been designed with an initial capacity of manufacturing 250 MEMU / EMU / LHB / trainset type advanced coaches per annum.

  • A 5 km long rail connectivity has been provided for movement of coaches from the factory to a new electronically interlocked Harangul railway station, which earlier used to be only a halt station.

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

NAMGHARS
The Union Home Minister Amit Shah distributed financial grants to 8,000 Namghars (traditional Vaisnavite monasteries of Assam) under the Assam Darshan programme.

About:

  • Namghars (literally meaning Prayer House) are places for congregational worship associated with the entire Assamese community and the Ekasarana sect of Hinduism, in particular, that is native to Assam.

  • Besides forming the primary structure used for worship, they also function as meeting houses for congregations, as well as theatres for dramatic performances (bhaona).

  • The Namghar, also called the kirtanghar, is also the central structure in the Sattras (monasteries of the Ekasarana religion) where the other buildings are positioned around it.

  • Namghars were introduced in Assam by the Vaishnavite saints Damodaradeva, Madhavadeva and Sankaradeva for Assamese people where they can culture and practice naam (devotional songs) and Bhakti of God (devotion).

Source : PIB
Culture

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

AYUSHMAN BHARAT PM-JAY SEHAT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY SEHAT to extend coverage to all residents of Jammu & Kashmir.

About:

  • The scheme will provide a financial cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family for in-patient care and surgical procedures.

  • Getting free treatment of up to 5 lakh rupees under this scheme would improve the ease of living. Right now about 6 lakh families of the state are getting the benefit of Ayushman Bharat Scheme. All 21 lakh families will get the same benefit after the SEHAT scheme.

  • Another benefit of this scheme would be that treatment is not limited to government and private hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir only. Rather, treatment can be availed from thousands of hospitals empanelled under this scheme in the country.

Source : LiveMint
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

THOUBAL MULTIPURPOSE PROJECT
Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched several development projects in Manipur.

About:

  • He inaugurated the e-office and Thoubal Multipurpose Project (Thoubal Dam) in Imphal through virtual mode which will irrigate 35,104 hectares.

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

  • Shri Shah said earlier projects were abandoned after performing ground-breaking ceremonies and work is now being done under the leadership of Modi ji, to inaugurate all projects whose foundation stones were laid by previous governments.

Source : PIB
Geography

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

UMBA VILLAGE
Five Mohallas in Umba village in Ladakh received electricity connection recently. Umba village had no electricity till now.

About:

  • The village which is 60 KM away from district headquarter Kargil, is situated in toughest terrain at 13,000 thousand feet height and remains cut off for five months during winters.

  • Under the guidance of Kargil Renewable Energy Development Authority (KREDA), the Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) in partnership with the CSR project of Royal Enfield has installed a 17.5kW Solar Electricity system in Umba.

Source : All India Radio
Geography

Current Affairs
Dec. 28, 2020

ARYA RAJENDRAN
Arya Rajendran (born 1999) is an Indian politician, who currently serves as the mayor of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation.

About:

  • Arya won as councillor from Mudavanmukal ward of Thiruvananthapuram corporation at the 2020 Kerala local body elections at the age of 21 and was appointed as the mayor of the corporation which made her the youngest mayor of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation.

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

  • In India, Suman Koli who became the Mayor of Bharatpur in Rajasthan at 21 years in 2009 is one of the youngest.

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance
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