Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

  1. NCC cadets to participate in Republic Day Parade

– Lt Gen Tarun Kumar Aich, Director General, National Cadet Corps has said that the NCC is committed to grooming the youth as responsible citizens, who would contribute immensely in nation-building.

– While speaking to the media in New Delhi on 08 January 2021, the Director-General said 2 contingents of NCC cadets, one each of boys and girls, will participate in the Republic Day Parade on 26 January.

– These cadets will be selected from amongst those who are participating in the Republic Day Camp, RDC-2021, which commenced at the Cariappa Parade Ground, Delhi Cantt on 04 Jan 2021.

– A total of 1000 Cadets, including 380 girl cadets, drawn from all 28 States and 09 Union Territories of the country, are participating in this one month long Camp.

– He said the aim of the Republic Day Camp, is to provide the participating cadets, exposure to the rich culture and traditions of our nation through a number of cultural events, that take place in the run-up to the Republic Day and the Prime Minister’s visit to NCC Camp for PM’s Rally on 28 Jan 2021.

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2. Columbia Asia Hospitals Private Limited

– The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves acquisition of 100% shareholding of the Columbia Asia Hospitals Private Limited by Manipal Health Enterprises Private Limited.

– Manipal Health Enterprises Private Limited (Acquirer/MHEPL) is a part of Manipal Educational and Medical Group, operating a network of hospitals, providing multi-speciality care.

– Its focus is to develop an affordable, high quality healthcare framework through its multi-speciality and tertiary care delivery spectrum and further extend it to homecare. MHEPL is not engaged in any business activity outside India, except in Malaysia.

– Columbia Asia Hospitals Private Limited (Target/CAHPL) is a private healthcare company providing high quality, affordable, accessible health care and began its operations in India in 2005.

– AHPL operates a chain of eleven multi-speciality hospitals and one teleradiology business.

– CAHPL is not engaged in any business activities outside India. However, it is a part of International Columbia US LLC, an international healthcare group, which operates a chain of modern hospitals across India, China and Africa.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 8 January, 2021

3. Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum-2021

– NCAVES India Forum 2021 is being organised by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

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

–  India is one of the five countries taking part in this project – the other countries being Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico.

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

– MoSPI has coordinated with all the stakeholders through a consultative process by setting in place a mechanism for linking the diverse stakeholders concerned – namely producers and the policymakers using the environmental accounts.

– The participation in the project has helped MOSPI commence the compilation of the Environment Accounts as per the UN-SEEA framework and release environmental accounts in its publication “EnviStats India” on an annual basis since 2018.

– Several of these accounts are closely related to the social and economic attributes, making them a useful tool for the Policy.

– Another feather to the cap under the NCAVES project is the development of the India-EVL Tool which is essentially a look-up tool giving a snapshot of the values of various ecosystem services in the different states of the country, based on about 80 studies conducted across the country.

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

– A web portal www.ncavesindiaforum.in has been designed for the purpose of registration, participation and to function as a repository for the environment-related information.

– On the first day of the event, the Hon’ble Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation and Ministry of Planning, Rao Inderjit Singh will highlight the various government initiatives taken up for improving the environment data ecosystem.

– In addition, the first day will witness the participation of Ambassador of the EU Delegation to India and representatives from various national and international organisations, including Director, UNSD, Director UNEP, Director, UNESCAP, Director World Bank and Chairperson, UN Committee of Experts on Environment Economic Accounting.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 7 January, 2021

4. Dharmendra Pradhan interacts with Ministers of Mongolia

– Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan, through video conference interacted with H.E Mr. L. Oyun-Erdene, MP, Minister and Chief Cabinet Secretary of Mongolia and Co-Chair of the India-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation and H.E Mr G.Yondon, Minister of Mines and Heavy Industry.

– Bilateral cooperation in hydrocarbons and steel sectors were comprehensively reviewed in the meetings.

– Shri Pradhan conveyed deep appreciation to H.E Oyun-Erdene and H.E Yondon for their support in facilitating approvals for expeditious implementation of the greenfield Mongol Refinery Project, built under a Line of Credit from Government of India, and also for their commitment in setting up a pipeline to transport crude to the refinery being built in Sainshand.

– He also sought their cooperation in completing this pipeline well before the commissioning of the Refinery project.

– Shri Pradhan also welcomed the keenness of Mongolian companies in supplying coking coal to the Indian steel industry and agreed to advance cooperation for mutual benefit. “We look forward to substantial partnerships with Mongolian companies in the areas of minerals, coal and steel”, he added.

– The Minister, on behalf of Government of India, reiterated India’s commitment to timely completion of the Mongol Refinery Project, the country’s 1st oil refinery.

– He expressed willingness to further share India’s expertise in the oil and gas sector including capacity building in accordance with the developmental priorities of Mongolia.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 5 January, 2021

5. Seventh Trade Policy Review of India at the WTO

– The second and final session of India’s seventh Trade Policy Review (TPR) concluded on 8th January 2021, at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

– The TPR is an important mechanism under the WTO’s monitoring function in which member countries’ trade and related policies are examined by the WTO with an aim to contribute towards improved adherence to WTO rules while providing constructive feedback to the Member under review.

– India’s official delegation for the TPR was headed by the Commerce Secretary, Dr. Anup Wadhawan. In his closing statement to the WTO Membership, the Commerce Secretary effectively responded to the issues raised by the Members during the First Session of India’s TPR held on 6th January 2021, while appreciating the importance placed by the WTO Members on India’s role and contribution to world trade, as well as to the multilateral trading system.

– This can be gauged by more than 1050 questions asked during this exercise as well as 53 interventions made by the Member countries in the TPR meetings.

– The Commerce Secretary highlighted that reform is a continuous and ongoing process, and the Government of India is deeply committed to pursuing this path to make India an attractive trade and investment partner for the world.

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6. Digital Calendar and Diary of Government of India

– Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on 8 January, 2021 launched the Digital Calendar and Diary of Government of India.

– In a ceremony held at National Media Center, Shri Javadekar, with the click of a button unveiled the Android and iOS mobile applications of the calendar and diary.

– The Minister expressed happiness that the Government calendar that has adorned the walls in the past will now adorn mobile phones. Highlighting the features of the app Javadekar said “the app was free and will be available in 11 languages from 15th January, 2021.

– The app will do away with the need for a new calendar every year”. He further added “each month will carry a theme and an accompanying message and will feature one famous Indian personality. The app will also inform people about the timeline of the launch of various government programmes so far”.

– Speaking on the diary feature of the app the Minister said: “because of the diary feature the calendar is more advanced, more feature-laden and easier compared to other digital calendar apps”.

– The Digital Calendar of Government of India is in line with Prime Minister’s vision of “Digital India” and can be accessed at the click of a button on any smartphone.

– The App is available for download on both Google Play Store and the iOS App Store.

– The app has been designed and developed by Bureau of Outreach and Communication, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in collaboration with National Informatics Centre (NIC).

– The application is currently available in Hindi and English language and will be soon made available in 11 other Indian regional languages.

– While the earlier physical version of Government of India Calendar had a reach up to the Panchayat level in the country, the digital avatar of the calendar in form of this app will be available to anyone across the world.

The Government of India Calendar application contains the following features:

– Latest information on various schemes, events and publications of Government of India

– Official holidays and various important dates.

– Inspirational and motivational messages from great personalities of our nation.

– Provision for taking notes digitally which will be stored with cutting edge security and privacy measures

– Provision for scheduling of meetings and setting reminders for important tasks and events.

– Accessibility features for visually impaired Divyangjans in coming days fulfilling the goal of Prime Minister’s “Accessible India”/”Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan”.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 4 January, 2021

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Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

1. NCLT approves NHPC’s Resolution Plan for Jalpower Corporation Limited

– National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Hyderabad bench approved NHPC’s Resolution Plan for taking over Jalpower Corporation Limited (JPCL) as going concerned vide its order dated 24.12.2020 and uploaded the same on its website on 07.01.2021.

– JPCL was executing 120 MW Rangit Stage-IV Hydroelectric Project in Sikkim. The Company is currently undergoing Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (“CIRP”) which was initiated on April 09, 2019 vide order of Hon’ble NCLT.

– NHPC Ltd., a PSU under Ministry of Power, had submitted its Resolution Plan and was declared the successful resolution applicant by Committee of Creditors (CoC) on 24.01.2020. CoC approved Resolution Plan was filed by Resolution Professional with Hon’ble NCLT Hyderabad Bench on 28.01.2020.

– NHPCwill make an upfront payment of Rs. 165 Crore and the cost of the project is considered as Rs.943.20 Crore.

– Jalpower Corporation Limited is the second company after LancoTeesta Hydro Power Ltd (LTHPL) to be acquired through the NCLT process by NHPC.

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2. Sports Minister Shri Kiren Rijiju inaugurates 162-bed hostel at Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range

– Union Sports Minister of State Shri Kiren Rijiju inaugurated a residential hostel in the premises of the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range. It will be a 162 bedded air-conditioned hostel with attached washroom facility.

– There will also be an air-conditioned dining area and facilities for sports-specific diet and a separate recreation area for boys and girls. The facility has been created at a cost of Rs. 12.26 crores.

– Kiren Rijiju said, “Our athletes represent the country at the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, they must have a standard of living where basic facilities are provided.”

– The Sports Minister also announced that all hostels must be of at least 3-star standard in terms of food, hospitality and cleanliness with the facility management being done by an expert agency.

– He added that going forward there should be a separate girls hostel and separate boys hostel. “Shooting being a priority sport, we have to take all the necessary steps for the shooters.”

– With the creation of this hostel facility, it will be a major boost for the Indian shooters training at the facility who have previously been staying at accommodation outside the shooting range.

– The hostel will enable the shooters to now only take a short walk down to their respective rifle, pistol and shotgun ranges.

– Moreover with the creation of this facility, it will not only benefit the core group of senior shooters but also the shooters who are part of the TOPS Development group and the Khelo India scheme and NCOE shooters.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 7 January, 2021

3. Eligibility criteria of 75 % in Class 12th relaxed for IIT admissions this year

– Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ announced that eligibility criteria of scoring a minimum 75% in Class 12th have been relaxed for taking admission in IITs this year.

–  He further informed that JEE (Advanced) – 2021 will be held as a computer-based test on 3rd July 2021. This year JEE (Advanced) will be conducted by IIT Kharagpur.

4. Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia appointed as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court

– The President of India, in the exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India, appointed Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court.

– Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia,was enrolled as an Advocate on July 07, 1986 and practiced in the Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Courts in Civil, Constitutional, Service, and Labour matters and has specialized in Service and Constitutional matters.

– He was appointed as Permanent Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court on November l , 2008.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 5 January, 2021

5. PM to Inaugurate Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention 2021

– Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention is the flagship event of the Ministry of External Affairs and provides an important platform to engage and connect with the overseas Indians.

– In view of the sentiments of our vibrant diaspora community, the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, is being organized on 9th January 2021, despite the ongoing Covid pandemic.

– The Convention will be held in a virtual format, as were the PBD Conferences held recently in the run-up to the Convention. The theme of 16th PBD Convention 2021 is “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat”.

– PBD Convention will have three segments. The PBD Convention will be inaugurated by Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and will feature a keynote address by the Chief Guest, H.E. Mr. Chandrikapersad Santokhi, Hon’ble President of the Republic of Suriname.

– The winners of the online Bharat ko Janiye Quiz for the youth will also be announced.

– The Inaugural session will be followed by the two Plenary sessions.

– The first Plenary on Role of Diaspora in Aatmanirbhar Bharat, will feature addresses by External Affairs Minister and Commerce and Industry Minister.

– The second Plenary on Facing Post Covid Challenges – Scenario in Health, Economy, Social and International Relations, will be addressed by Minister of Health and Minister of State for External Affairs. Both Plenaries will feature panel discussions inviting eminent diaspora experts.

– The finale would be the Valedictory Session where the Hon’ble Rashtrapatiji will deliver his Valedictory address to mark the occasion of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

– The names of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardees for 2020-21 will also be announced. Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are conferred to select Indian diaspora members to recognize their achievements and honour their contributions to various fields, both in India and abroad.

– The Youth PBD will also be celebrated virtually on the theme “Bringing together Young Achievers from India and Indian Diaspora” on 8 January 2021, and will be anchored by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

– The Special Guest for the event is H.E. Ms. Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Community& Voluntary Sector of New Zealand.

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6. Helping Hand to Sri Lanka

– An India-funded free ambulance service is playing a vital role in Sri Lanka’s Covid-19 response.

– India provided a grant of 7.56 million USD for the Suwa Seriya [vehicle or journey for good health] service which was launched in 2016, on a pilot basis. Later, this was extended throughout the country with additional grants from India.

– India also helped with Capacity Building: Training and refresher programmes for Sri Lankan emergency medical technicians which further generated employment for the local population.

– It is India’s second-largest grant project to Sri Lanka after the housing project of more than 60,000 houses, with a nearly 400 million USD grant.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 4 January, 2021

7. Air Pollution and Pregnancy Losses: Lancet Report

– According to a recent study poor air quality is associated with a considerable proportion of pregnancy loss in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

– It is the first study to estimate the effect of air pollution on pregnancy loss across the region.

– They created a model to examine how exposure to PM 2.5 increased women’s risk of pregnancy loss, calculating risk for each 10 µg/m³ increased in PM 2.5 after adjusting for maternal age, temperature and humidity, seasonal variation, and long-term trends in pregnancy loss.

– Each increase in 10 µg/m³ was estimated to increase a mother’s risk of pregnancy loss by 3%.

– The increase in risk was greater for mothers from rural areas or those who became pregnant at an older age, compared to younger mothers from urban areas.

– Of the pregnancy loss cases, 77% were from India, 12% from Pakistan, and 11% from Bangladesh.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 29 December, 2020

8. Longitudinal Ageing Study of India

– Recently, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has released the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1 Report on the virtual platform.

– LASI is a full-scale national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population ageing in India. It was commissioned in 2016.

– It is India’s first and the world’s largest-ever survey that provides a longitudinal database for designing policies and programmes for the older population in the broad domains of social, health, and economic well-being.

– The National Programme for Health Care of Elderly, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has undertaken the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India, through International Institute for Population Sciences, (IIPS), Mumbai in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health, University of Southern California, USA, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and National Institute on Ageing.

– The first national wave of the LASI (Wave 1) covered a baseline sample of 72,250 individuals aged 45 and above and their spouses, including elderly persons aged 60 and above and oldest-old persons aged 75 and above from all States and Union Territories (UTs) of India (excluding Sikkim).

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 26 December, 2020

Findings are:

In the 2011 census, the 60+ population accounted for 8.6% of India’s population, accounting for 103 million elderly people.

Growing at around 3% annually, the number of elderly people will rise to 319 million in 2050.

75% of elderly people suffer from one or the other chronic disease. 40% of the elderly people have one or the other disability and 20% have issues related to mental health.

The self-reported prevalence of diagnosed cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is 28% among older adults aged 45 and above.

The prevalence of multi-morbidity conditions among the elderly age 60 and above is much higher in the states/UTs of Kerala (52%), Chandigarh (41%), Lakshadweep (40%), Goa (39%) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (38%). The prevalence of single morbidity and multi-morbidity conditions increases with age.

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Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

 1. Seventh Trade Policy Review of India at the WTO begins

– India’s seventh Trade Policy Review (TPR) began on Wednesday, 6th January 2021, at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

– The TPR is an important mechanism under the WTO’s monitoring function and involves a comprehensive peer-review of the Member’s national trade policies. India’s last TPR took place in 2015.

– India’s official delegation for the TPR is headed by the Commerce Secretary, Dr. Anup Wadhawan.

–  In his opening statement to the WTO Membership on the occasion, Commerce Secretary emphasized that this TPR is taking place at a time when the world is witnessing unprecedented health and economic crisis.

– He highlighted the far-reaching efforts made by India to effectively address the health and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat initiative.

India has advocated a short-term package of effective measures at the WTO that includes

– A temporary waiver of certain TRIPS provisions to increase manufacturing capacity and ensure timely and affordable availability of new diagnostics,

– Therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19;

– A permanent solution for Public Stockholding (PSH) for food security purposes to address food security concern; and a multilateral initiative that provides for easier access to medical services under mode-4 to facilitate easier cross-border movement of health care professionals.

– A comprehensive report issued by the WTO Secretariat on the occasion, chronicling all major trade and economic initiatives that India took over the last five years, acknowledged India’s strong economic growth at 7.4% during the period under review and made a positive note of India’s reform efforts during this period.

– The Report noted that strong economic growth led to an improvement in socio-economic indicators, such as per-capita income and life expectancy in India.

– The Secretariat report also commended India for liberalizing its FDI policy, ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement and implementing several trade-facilitation measures during the period under review.

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2. Avian Influenza

– In view of the outbreaks of Avian Influenza in migratory birds, wild and domestic crow and poultry in certain States of the country, a control room has been set up in room no 190 A, KrishiBhawan (Tel no. 011-23382354) in Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, New Delhi.

– It is done to strategies coordinate and facilitates State Government with regard to outbreak management, disease control and containment as envisaged in the Action Plan on Preparedness, Control and Containment of Avian Influenza, 2015.

– Avian Influenza (AI) viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century. India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.

– Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic.

– There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products. Implementing management practices that incorporate biosecurity principles, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols, as well as cooking and processing standards, are effective means of controlling the spread of the AI viruses.

– In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September – October to February – March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out.

– Avian Influenza spread in villages of Thalavady South, Thakazhi, Pallipad, Karuvattaindistrict of Alappuzha and village of Neendoor in the district of Kottayam, Kerala.

– As per the report received, a total of 5 RRTs have been deployed in above-said 4 epicentres of the district of Alappuzha and 8 RRTs at epicentre Neendoorin district of Kottayam for culling.

– A total of 17326 birds (9066 in Pallipad, 8260 in Karuvatta) have been culled and a total of 1570 kg feed have been destroyed in epicentres of the district of Alappuzha.

–  At epicenter in the district of Kottayam 4229 birds have been culled and a total of 8 kg feed and 42 eggs have been destroyed on 6.01.2021

– Further, some samples of crow from Kale Hanumanji Forest Nakka, Jaipur, Rajasthan found positive for H5N8 Avian influenza virus.

– Unusual moralities have been found in 7111 domestic birds in Haryana, 150 wild birds in Madhya Pradesh, 10 crows in Gujarat, 336 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 5 January, 2021

3. Ministry of Power notifies Norms and Standards for the trading of E-certificate under PAT Cycle II

– The Ministry of Power, Government of India, in consultation with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has notified the price of per metric tonne of oil equivalent as INR 18402 only for the year 2018-19, vide G.S.R 779 (E) dated 14th December 2020.

– For the succeeding target years, the price shall be such amount as may be specified by the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette. Such price will come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

About BEE

– BEE is a statutory body under the Ministry of Power, Government of India. It assists in developing policies and strategies on energy conservation and efficiency with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.

– BEE coordinates with designated consumers, designated agencies of the states, and other related organization to identify and utilize the existing resources and infrastructure, in performing the functions assigned to it under the Energy Conservation Act.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 4 January, 2021

4. India-Germany Leaders’ Video-Teleconference

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video-teleconference with his German counterpart, Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel on 6 January, 2021.

– The Prime Minister appreciated the long-standing role of Chancellor Merkel in providing stable and strong leadership at the European and global stage and thanked her for guiding the growth of the India-Germany Strategic Partnership.

– The two leaders discussed key issues of mutual importance including the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral ties, regional and global issues, particularly India-EU relations.

– The Prime Minister briefed Chancellor Merkel on the developments in India with regard to vaccine development and assured Chancellor Merkel of India’s commitment to deploy its capacities for the benefit of the world.

– The Prime Minister welcomed Germany’s decision to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and expressed his desire to further strengthen cooperation with Germany under the platform of Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

– Noting that this year marks the 70th anniversary of setting up of bilateral relations between India and Germany and 20th anniversary of the Strategic Partnership, the two leaders agreed to hold the sixth Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) at an early date in 2021 and to set an ambitious agenda for the same.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 29 December, 2020

5. Government approves advisory for management of Human-Wildlife Conflict across the country

The Standing Committee of National Board of Wildlife(SC-NBWL) in its 60th meeting held on 05th January has approved the advisory for management of Human-Wildlife Conflict(HWC) in the country.

– The advisory makes important prescriptions for the States/ Union Territories for dealing with Human-Wildlife conflict situations and seeks expedited inter-departmental coordinated and effective actions.

– The advisory envisages empowering gram panchayats in dealing with the problematic wild animals as per the section 11 (1) (b) of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

– Utilising add-on coverage under the Pradhan MantriFasalBimaYojna for crop compensation against crop damage due to HWC and augmenting fodder and water sources within the forest areas are some key steps envisaged to reduce HWC. Payment of a portion of ex-gratia as interim relief within 24 hours of the incident to the victim/family.

– The advisory also envisages prescribing inter-departmental committees at local/state level, adoption of early warning systems, creation of barriers, dedicated circle wise Control Rooms with toll-free hotline numbers which could be operated on 24X7 basis, Identification of hotspots and formulation and implementation of special plans for improved stall-fed farm animal etc.

– Some of the other important approvals took place during the meeting are the inclusion of Caracal, a medium-size wild cat found in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, into the list of critically endangered species for taking up conservation efforts with financial support under Centrally sponsored Scheme-Development of Wildlife Habitat.

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

– The Standing Committee also recommended the construction of a causeway across Jampannavagu to Muthapur of Govindaraopet and between Jampannavagu to Motlagudem in Mulugu District of Telangana with certain mitigation measures.

– It also recommended the proposal for Tinaighat-Castlerock-Caranzol Railway doubling of South Western Railways, Karnataka with certain mitigation measures as advised by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

– The other decisions taken at the meeting are the construction of a bridge and canal with an aim to augment the water supply and irrigation facilities in villages Madharwa, Thakurapur, Jamdhara and Sugaon in Balrampur District of Uttar Pradesh under the National SaryuNaharPariyojna with certain mitigation measures and the construction of Integrated Bus Terminus cum Commercial complex in Vashi, Navi Mumbai in Thane district with certain mitigation measures.

– The redeveloped facility will pave way for 17 bus bays and approximately 3,300 bus trips shall be operational, which will greatly benefit in the transportation of people in and around Mumbai.

About The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

– It is constituted by the Central Government under Section 5 A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA).

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6. 5th National STI Policy

– Draft 5th National STI Policy guided by self-reliance vision to position India among top 3 scientific superpowers.

– Proposals in draft STIP will help create an end to end science, technology and innovation ecosystem according to the Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.

– The new policy, STIP, will revolve around the core principles of being decentralized, evidence-informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and inclusive as per Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Head STIP Secretariat and Adviser DST.

– The aim of draft STIP will be to create an end to end science, technology and innovation ecosystem, which is inclusive and brings equal benefits to all stakeholders in the process.

– The 5th National Science Technology and Innovation Policy finalized and available for public consultation is guided by the broad vision of achieving technological self-reliance and positioning India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come, to attract, nurture, strengthen and retain critical human capital through ‘people-centric’ science technology and Innovation Ecosystem.

– The policy drafted through a4 track process of consultation aims to bring about profound changes through short, medium, and long-term mission mode projects by building a nurtured ecosystem that promotes translational as well as foundational research and innovation among both individuals and organizations in alignment with global standards.

– The objective of the draft policy is to identify and address the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian STI ecosystem to catalyse the socio-economic development of the country and also make the Indian STI ecosystem globally competitive.

– It also aims to foster, develop, and nurture a robust system for evidence and stakeholder-driven STI planning, information, evaluation, and policy research in India.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 26 December, 2020

7. Solidarity and Stability Deal

– Recently, Gulf states signed a ‘solidarity and stability’ deal at the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit held in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia.

– Members of the GCC signed a deal in Al­Ula, Saudi Arabia to remove all the sanctions over Qatar and re-open their land, sea and air borders to Qatar.

– Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE are the members of GCC.

– To unite efforts to promote the Gulf region and to confront challenges that surround them, especially the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme and its plans for sabotage and destruction.

– In June 2017, Saudi Arabia and its allies, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar and imposed a naval, air and land blockade on the country.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 25 December, 2020

8. Yakshagana

– Recently a Yakshagana artiste died while performing on stage.

– Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form of Karnataka.

– It is a temple art form that depicts mythological stories and Puranas.

– It is performed with massive headgears, elaborate facial make-up and vibrant costumes and ornaments.

– Usually recited in Kannada, it is also performed in Malayalam as well as Tulu (the dialect of south Karnataka).

– It is performed with percussion instruments like chenda, maddalam, jagatta or chengila (cymbals) and chakratala or elathalam (small cymbals).

– The most popular episodes are from the Mahabharata i.e. Draupadi swayamvar, Subhadra vivah, etc. and from Ramayana i.e. Rajyabhishek, Lav-Kush yuddh, etc.

9. Toycathon 2021

– Recently, the government has launched a virtual toy hackathon ‘Toycathon 2021’.

– The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Textile, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and All India Council for Technical Education.

– The aim is to conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate the positive behaviour and good value among the children.

– And to promote India as a global toy manufacturing hub (Atmanirbhar Abhiyan).

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Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

  1. Visva Bharati’s 100 years

– Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah has said that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Visva Bharati and Shantiniketan have always been centers of attraction in India and abroad.

– Addressing the faculty, students and intellectuals at Visva Bharati University at Shantiniketan in West Bengal on 20 December, 2020, Amit Shah said that whether it be the new ideas in the country’s cultural heritage, art and tradition, or the freedom struggle, Bengal has been 50 years ahead of the times than other parts of the country in every aspect.

– The Union Home Minister said that Visva Bharati is going to complete its 100 years. There must have been some ideas at the time when it was founded, and now, on the completion of 100 years, it should be an effort to renew Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s ideas from this institution.

– He said that Shantiniketan and Visva Bharati have contributed to the framework of the education system in the country.

– Shri Amit Shah said that this journeythat started from a Brahmacharya Ashram in 1901 has contributed a lot to the Cultural Heritage of India. He said that Gurudev said that the purpose of education is to make the person fearless by thinking beyond all limits of narrowness.

– Viswa Bharti’s journey will be considered successful only if the ideas emanating from here will change our education system as per the mantra given by Gurudev Ravindra Nath Tagore.

– He also said that the purpose of education is to groom personalities who will break free of luxurious life, attachment and all kinds of social bindings in search of peace and cultivate such minds whose quest to know the truth never stops.

– The Union Home Minister said that the Visva Bharati has given the nation several people who have excelled in various fields.

– In the hundredth year of Visva-Bharati, we should take a pledge that this tradition will not stop and after 50 years, when we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Visva Bharati,  we should aim to nurture at least ten people who excel in various fields and instil Gurudev Tagore’s ideas across the country and make them a part of life and society.

  1. Indian Information Service

– Madhav Krishna Pardhi, a retired Indian Information Service officer celebrated his 100th birthday on 18 December, 2020. Poet, journalist, storyteller, actor and critic, he served in the Indian Information Service from 1950 to 1978.

– M. K. Pardhi was born in a humble family at Savner in Maharashtra. He started his career as a journalist at a Marathi newspaper Navshakti. He proudly remembers his days when he reported on the “Quit India” movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.

– In 1945, when Prabhakar Padhye was the editor of Navshakti, Shri Pardhi worked as the deputy editor for five years.

– Shri Pradhi recounts his association with the All India Radio “I spent large part of my career in the All India Radio. I joined the News Services Division of All India Radio in New Delhi in 1950. I worked in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry till my retirement.

– But my association with radio goes even beyond. I was associated with radio broadcast work since Mahatma Gandhi’s 1942 Quit India movement in AIR Mumbai, where I also worked as casual reporter and occasionally as a poet.”

  1. 8th producing Basin of India – Bengal Basin

Bolstering efforts to meet one of the vital essentials- the energy need for AtmaNirbhar Bharat, Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel on 20 December, 2020 dedicated the Bengal Basin, the 8th producing basin of India, to the nation.

– Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, while dedicating the Asokenagar discovery to the nation, said that the discovery would play a role for India’s energy security.

–  He stated that the discovery would definitely add to our commitment towards Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call for reducing oil import dependence.

– Shri Pradhan congratulated ONGC and said that with this discovery, around seven decades of relentless endeavours  by scientists and engineers of India have borne fruits, giving a new hope for robust development of West Bengal. Bengal Basin finally looks set to find a place on the oil & gas map of the world, he added.

– ONGC took a major step by commencing oil production from the well Asokenagar-1, Bengal Basin in 24 Paragana district. The well Asoknagar-1 was completed as an oil producer under Early-Monetization Plan issued by Government of India.

– This makes ONGC having discovered and put to production seven out of the eight producing basins of India covering 83 percent of established oil & gas reserves. ONGC is India’s largest oil and gas producer contributing 72 percent of the country’s hydrocarbon production.

  1. 6th International Science Film Festival of India (ISFFI)

– 6th International Science Film Festival of India (ISFFI) as a part of IISF – India International Science Festival, from December 22nd to 25th, 2020.

– ISFFI seeks to promote science popularization among citizens and aims at attracting talented young science filmmakers and science enthusiasts.

– This year, a record 632 science documentaries, short films, animation videos received from 60 countries.

– Internationally acclaimed and awards winning foreign and Indian films on science, health and environment were screened via online platform.

– A competition for Indian and International professional and student film- makers were organised.

  1. Centenary Celebrations of AMU

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the centenary celebrations of Aligarh Muslim University on 22 December, 2020 at 11 AM via video conferencing. Prime Minister will also release a postal stamp during the event.

– Chancellor of the University His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifudin and Union Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank will also be present on the occasion.

About AMU

– AMU became a University in 1920, through an Act of Indian Legislative Council by elevating the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College to the status of a Central University.

– MAO College was set up in 1877 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. The University has a campus spread over 467.6 hectares of land in the city of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.

– It also has three off-campus centres in Malappuram (Kerala), Murshidabad-Jangipur (West Bengal) and Kishanganj (Bihar).

  1. Intentional genomic alteration (IGA) and GalSafe pigs

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a first-of-its-kind intentional genomic alteration (IGA) in a line of domestic pigs referred to as GalSafe pigs.

– These pigs may be used for food and human therapeutics. This will be the first time that the regulator has approved an animal biotechnology product for both food and biomedical purposes.
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About Intentional genomic alteration

– Intentional genomic alteration in animal’s means making specific changes to the genome of the organism using modern molecular technologies that are popularly referred to as “genome editing” or “genetic engineering”.

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– Such changes in the DNA sequence of an animal may be carried out for research purposes, to produce healthier meat for human consumption and to study disease resistance in animals among other reasons.

  1. ‘Christmas Star’ conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter

– After nearly 400 years, Saturn and Jupiter the two largest planets in our solar system will be brought closest in the night sky by an astronomical event called the “great conjunction” and popularly referred to as the “Christmas Star”.

About “Great Conjunction”

– A conjunction is not unique to Saturn and Jupiter however, it is the name given to any event where planets or asteroids appear to be very close together in the sky when viewed from the Earth.

– Astronomers use the word “great” for the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn because of the planets’ sizes.

– The “Great Conjunction” happens once in about 20 years because of the time each of the planets take to orbit around the Sun.

Daily Important News will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

1. ASSOCHAM Foundation Week 2020

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver the keynote address at ASSOCHAM Foundation Week 2020 on 19th December at 10:30 AM via video conferencing.

– Prime Minister will also present the ‘ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award’ to Shri Ratan Tata, who will receive the award on behalf of the TATA Group.

About ASSOCHAM

– ASSOCHAM was established in 1920 by promoter Chambers representing all regions of India.

– Having in its fold over 400 Chambers and Trade Associations, and serving over 4.5 lakh members across India, ASSOCHAM has emerged as the fountainhead of knowledge for Indian industry.

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2. Livelihood Enterprise Development Programme

Second Batch of the Livelihood Enterprise Development Programme(LEDP) on Food Processing & Bakery sanctioned by Goa Regional Office was inaugurated by Smt. Usha Ramesh, General Manager, NABARD, Goa in a function organized by Agnel Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Village Hasapur,Pernem  on 16 December 2020.

– Shri Vasant Savardekar, DGM, NABARD, Shri Sushil L Naik, DDM, Master trainers and 30 women members drawn from various SHGs were present during the occasion.

– In her inaugural address, Ms. Usha Ramesh, GM urged the participants to undergo the training in the right spirit, upgrade their skill and use the opportunity provided by the upcoming Mopa International Airport in the village to their benefit by taking up such livelihood activities.

– The State Government is in the process of GI tagging local food delicacies and this will also come handy.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 17 December, 2020

3. Annual Summit of Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI)

– The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri D.V. Sadananda Gowda inaugurated  the two-day Annual Summit of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) on 17 December, 2020.

– The Minister Conferred the  lifetime achievement and Special Recognition awards during the summit.

– While addressing the summit Shri Gowda said that the contribution of Indian pharmaceutical sector has been reinforced during this pandemic year when the companies, global and Indian, stepped in and stepped up their efforts in service of the country. India is often referred to as ‘the pharmacy of the world.’

– This has been proven completely true during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when India continued to produce and export critical life-saving medicines to the rest of the world , the minister added.

– The Minister said that India has attracted large scale inflow of foreign direct investment to the pharmaceutical sector and the Medical Devices sector.More and more foreign companies wanted to set up their research,   manufacturing and clinical trials in India.

– The Union Minister said that as a matter of record, pharmaceuticals export from India was over 20 billion dollars in the year 2019-20 and is expected to cross 25 billion dollars by the end of the current financial year.

– This was at a time when the domestic market has crossed 22 billion dollars last year. It is indeed poised for much higher growth.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 16 December, 2020

4. Vivad se Vishwas Scheme

– Income Tax Department, Goa has held an online seminar on Vivad se Vishwas Scheme with Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry ,Chartered Accountants, Tax Professionals and other stakeholders attending.

– Principal Commissioner of Income Tax Panaji Ms. Amrapalli Das addressed the participants and highlighted the benefits of the scheme. She has requested the participants to impress upon the taxpayers who will be immensely benefited by opting for the scheme.

– She has also advised the taxpayers to file the declaration before 31st December, 2020 so as to avoid last minute rush. Further, she has also said that the last date for filing declaration is 31.12.2020.

About the scheme and benefits

– Vivad se Vishwas Scheme is a well thought scheme brought out by the Government of India to put an end to pending direct tax disputes.

– The benefit under the Scheme is available for all the taxpayers who are in appeal at different levels of appeal matrix.

– The taxpayer can simply pay the disputed tax and can save the interest levied and leviable, further, any penalties levied and leviable.

– It is also available for the taxpayers in whose case the Department is in appeal against the revenue adverse orders. However, in such a case the taxpayers will be asked to pay half of the disputed tax or penalty.

– To get the maximum benefits the taxpayers have to pay the disputed tax on or before 31.03.2021. The scheme caters to all the taxpayers having income tax disputes in India including the non-resident assessees.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 15 December, 2020

5. Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

– Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally addressed an event by Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) on 17 December, 2020 through Video Conference.

– The theme of the event was “Build Back Better: building resilient health infrastructure and supply chains.”

– Dr Vardhan applauded the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure for organising the webinar with a forward looking perspective on how to make  health infrastructure and supply chains more resilient.

– Reiterating that disaster resilience as an essential area of common interest globally, he stated, “Over the past decades, India and nations of the world have seen unprecedented progress in economic and human development.

– However, as COVID-19 has shown, all of this notable progress is at risk if we do not make our systems resilient. The key lesson from the pandemic is that the principles of resilience must be integral to our quest for economic growth as individual nations and the international community.

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6. 4th India – IndonesiaVirtual Bilateral Meeting

– The 4thBilateral Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting between the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) India and the National Narcotics Board (BNN), Indonesia was held on 17th  December, 2020.

– The Indian delegation was led by Shri Rakesh Asthana, Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Indiaand the Indonesian delegation was led by Mr. PujiSarwono, Deputy of Legal Affairs and Cooperation, National Narcotic Board of Indonesia.

– Shri Rakesh Asthana, Director General (DG), NCB, Indiaexpressed his gratitude to the Government of Indonesia and the Head of BNN, Indonesia for conducting this virtual meeting amid the global pandemic COVID-19.

– DG, NCB highlighted issues particularly the trafficking of Heroin and Amphetamine Type Stimulant (ATS) in the country through land and maritime routes originating from the Golden Triangle. He also mentioned the new emerging challenge of trafficking of drugs through the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

– He also emphasized on the emerging trends in the production and trafficking of New Psychoactive Substances and usage of Darknet markets.

– Both the countries agreed on exchange of intelligence information in a timely manner to conduct follow-up investigation in drug seizure cases, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)and their precursors.

– It was decided to exchange information on illegal entry and exit points of illicit drug trafficking on the Indonesia-India borders and information on technology being used to interdict drug trafficking.

– The 5th India – Indonesia Bilateral Joint Working Group (JWG)Meeting on Drug Control Cooperation will be in India in 2021.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 14 December, 2020

7. Haldibari – Chilahati rail link

– Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Ms. Sheikh Hasina on 17 December, 2020 jointly inaugurated a railway link between Haldibari in India and Chilahati in Bangladesh during the PM level virtual bilateral summit.

– Later on the day, a goods train was flagged off by the Railway Minister of Bangladesh Md. Nurul Islam Sujan from Chilahati station which entered India passing through the international border thus heralding a new era for the people living in both the countries.

– The railway network of India and Bangladesh are mostly inherited from British Era Indian Railways. After partition in 1947, 7 rail links were operational between India and the then East Pakistan (up to 1965). Presently, there are 4 operational rail links between India and Bangladesh.

– They are, Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh),  Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh),  Radhikapur (India)–Birol (Bangladesh). The Haldibari – Chilahati rail link being made functional from 17.12.2020 is the 5th rail link between India and Bangladesh.

– The Haldibari – Chilahati rail link was operational till 1965. This was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri during partition.

– Trains traveling to Assam and North Bengal continued to travel through the then East Pakistan territory even after partition. For example, a train from Sealdah to Siliguri used to enter East Pakistan territory from Darshana and exit using the Haldibari – Chilahati link.

– However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links between India and the then East Pakistan. So on the Eastern Sector of India partition of the railways thus happened in 1965.  So the importance of the reopening of this rail link can be well imagined.

– This newly opened rail link will enhance rail network accessibility to the main ports, dry ports, and land borders to support the growth in regional trade and to encourage economic and social development of the region.

– Common people and businessman of both the countries will be able to reap the benefit of both goods and passenger traffic, once passenger trains are planned in this route.

– With this new link coming into operation, tourist from Bangladesh will be able to visit places like Darjeeling, Sikkim, Dooars apart from countries like Nepal, Bhutan etc easily. Economic activities of these South Asian countries will also be benefitted from this new rail link.

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2020 – Set 75, 17 December

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Daily Important News will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

 1. Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India’

– NITI Aayog on 14 December, 2020 released a white paper: Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India with the vision:

  • To make India’s public health surveillance system more responsive and predictive to enhance preparedness for action at all levels.
  • A citizen-friendly public health surveillance system will ensure individual privacy and confidentiality, enabled with a client feedback mechanism.
  • The improved data-sharing mechanism between Centre and states for better disease detection, prevention, and control.
  • India aims to provide regional and global leadership in managing events that constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

– The white paper was released by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar; Member (Health) DrVinod K Paul; CEO Amitabh Kant; and Additional Secretary DrRakesh Sarwal.

About Vision 2035: Public Health Surveillance in India’

– It is a continuation of the work on health systems strengthening. It contributes by suggesting mainstreaming of surveillance by making individual electronic health records the basis for surveillance.

– Public health surveillance (PHS) is an important function that cuts across primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of care. Surveillance is ‘Information for Action’.

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2. “eSanjeevani” telemedicine

– India has crossed a landmark milestone in its eHealth journey. eSanjeevani telemedicine service of the Health Ministry has crossed 1 million (10 lakh) tele-consultations on 14 December, 2020.

– Telemedicine entails delivery of health services from a distance using the internet and it not only extends the reach of health services but also improves the quality of health services besides saving time and money.

– The roll-out of eSanjeevani in India is supposedly the first of its kind of digital transformation in the delivery of health services at the national scale by a developing country.

– During the COVID-19 pandemic, eSanjeevani not only brought about a huge digital transformation in the delivery of health services but had also boosted the digital health ecosystem in the country.

– eSanjeevani initiative of Health Ministry is serving in two streams in 28 States and Union Territories.

– The eSanjeevaniAB-HWC enables the doctor to doctor teleconsultations and is being used at around 6000 Health & Wellness Centres which are being served by specialists and doctors in around 240 hubs which have been set up by States in District Hospitals or Medical Colleges etc.

– Over 20,000 paramedics, doctors and specialists have been trained to use eSanjeevaniAB-HWC.

– The second stream eSanjeevaniOPD is or providing remote health services to patients in the confines of their homes. eSanjeevaniOPD enables contactless, risk-free, and safe consultations between a doctor and a patient.

– It received a huge reception by both the patients and the doctors. Around 8000 doctors have been trained and onboarded on eSanjeevaniOPD and on an average around 1500 doctors practice telemedicine daily in around 225 onlineOPDs of which 190 are speciality OPDs and around 30 are general OPDs. Of late, daily eSanjeevani has been serving around 14,000 patients across the country.

– The top ten States with highest consultations through eSanjeevani and eSanjeevaniOPD platforms are Tamil Nadu (319507), Uttar Pradesh (268889), Madhya Pradesh (70838), Gujarat (63601), Kerala (62797), Himachal Pradesh (49224), Andhra Pradesh (39853), Karnataka (32693), Uttarakhand (31910) and Maharashtra (12635).

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 14 December, 2020

3. Swachhta Campaign Awards Ceremony

– Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan on 14 December, 2020 said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made Swachhta a Jan Andolan which is drawing wide participation from society, urban and rural areas alike.

– He was speaking at the awards distribution ceremony for Swacchta Pakhwada in the petroleum industry. He also said that the petroleum industry has been contributing to this Jan Andolan, giving a boost to its momentum and appealed to intensify this further and re-dedicate to this cause.

– As India completes 75 years of its independence in 2022, we must realise the dream of a Swacch Bharat”, he further added.

– He also called for greater involvement of private sector oil and gas companies in Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and suggested to PSUs to build state-of-the-art toilet facilities at all pilgrim centres and major tourist attractions in the country.

– He handed over the awards to oil and gas PSUs for Swacchta Pakhwada and Swacchta hi Sewa campaigns.

– Shri Pradhan complimented the winners of Swachhata Hi Seva 2019 and Swachhta Pakhwada for their efforts in raising awareness on various aspects of cleanliness, including waste management and eliminating single-use plastics.

– Following Swachhta Pakhwada Awards were presented: First Prize- IOCL Second Prize- BPCL 3rd Prize- ONGC Special Award- HPCL Swacchata hi Sewa: 1st- HPCL 2nd-BPCL 3rd-IOCL.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 12 December, 2020

4. VigyanYatras

– VigyanYatras to promote Scientific Temper among Masses being organised by various institutions ahead of IISF 2020.

– This science journey will be organized around 30 locations across the country.

– VigyanYatra is a promotional activity of the India International Science Festival. In this activity, the mobile science exhibition vans flag off from many cities of the country and the vision behind this science journey is to promote scientific temper and inculcate the culture of science among the masses.

– This program also ignites the minds of the youngsters because of science exhibition mobile vans are viewed by all local school/university students that create interest in science and generate awareness about the IISF.

– This 6th edition of IISF is going to be organized on the virtual platform due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. Around 30 locations have been identified across the country where this science journey will be organized.

– Indian Association of the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Kolkata organised this VigyanYatra virtually recently. Prof. Santanu Bhattacharya, Director, IACS inaugurated the programme. Chief Guest Prof. M.M. Sharma, FRS and Padma Vibhushan shed light on the importance of International Science Festival and the need and outcomes of this unique activity ‘VigyanYatra’.

– Eminent science communicators, innovators, teachers, students and research scholars of the locality will be felicitated.

– CSIR-Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), Dhanbad also organized ‘VigyanYatra’ on Youtube platform, under the East segment of four segments (East, West, North and South) cover the whole country.

– CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, Prof. Sunil Kumar Singh, Director, CSIR-NIO gave the welcome address. Director-General, CSIR and Secretary, DSIR, Dr Shekhar C. Mande in his presidential address, said that this science festival is going to impact and benefit every segment of society.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 11 December, 2020

5. ‘HIMGIRI’ Project

Himgiri’, the first of the three Project 17A ships being built at M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), Kolkata was launched on 14 December,2020.

– She made her first contact with the waters of Hoogly River at 1335 Hrs at the launch ceremony, General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was the Chief Guest.

– In keeping with Naval traditions Smt Madhulika Rawat, spouse of CDS launched the ship to the chanting of invocations from the Atharva Veda. The ship has taken its name and crest of the second Frigate of the Leander Class of ships, which incidentally was launched 50 years ago in 1970.

– Under the Project 17A program, a total of seven ships, four at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and three ships at GRSE are being built with enhanced stealth features, advanced indigenous weapon and sensor fit along with several other improvements.

– The launch of ‘Himgiri’ has showcased GRSE’s commitment towards the building of three state-of-the-art warships of P17A for Indian Navy.

– Over the years, GRSE has emerged as a leading shipyard having built over 100 ships. The yard has scaled up its infrastructure and skillsets to meet new challenges in the building of P17A ships. P17A ships are the first gas turbine propulsion and largest combat platforms ever built at GRSE.

– P17A ships have been indigenously designed by Directorate of Naval Design (Surface Ship Design Group) – DND(SSG), and are being built at indigenous yards namely MDL and GRSE

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6. All India Kisan Coordination Committee

The office bearers from different States representing the All India Kisan Coordination Committee met Agriculture Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar in Krishi Bhavan.

Farmer leaders from Telangana, Maharashtra, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Bihar spoke to the Agriculture Minister.

– All of them were convinced that the recent Farm Acts are for the benefit of farmers across India and will save farmers from the clutches of the middlemen who exploited farmers over the years.

– They were of the opinion that the laws would ensure freedom of choice to farmers in the sale and purchase of agri-produce and allow barrier-free trade and commerce outside premises of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees.

– They further added that giving farmers the right to enter into agreements with the buyer would enable prior price determination and transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor.

– These farm reforms, they felt, would also enable farmers to access modern technology, better seeds and other inputs, besides attracting private investment into the agriculture sector.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 10 December, 2020

7. Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research signs MOU with cGanga (think-tank of NMCG)

– India Water Impact Summit continues with many more experts from India and abroad sharing their insights on the topic of conservation and development.

– Experts from Norway joined their Indian counterparts to discuss ‘Arth Ganga – River Conservation Synchronised Development’ on 4th day of the summit.

– In a session on Sludge management, Dr. B. Bala Bhaskar, Ambassador of India to Norway said, “We need to take advantage of best practises of Norway in India and see how they can be adapted to local needs.” He extended his support to NMCG and cGanga.

– Ms. Karina Asbjørnsen, Norwegian Diplomat in India shared that Norway intends to deepen the relationship with India especially in the prevention of climate change and conservation of the environment. “

– In a key development Dr. Ola Stedje, Research Scientist, announced that his company has signed an MOU for development of sludge management framework in India jointly by The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) and cGanga.

– India Water Impact 2020 is a five-day-long summit, hosting experts and academicians from all over the world to discuss and debate issues related to water conservation, water security and river rejuvenation. The event is co-organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga and Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies.

8. Lancet Citizens’ Commission for Universal Health Coverage

– The Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System has been launched online which is a step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India.

About Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System

– It is a first-of-its-kind participatory, countrywide initiative, in collaboration with the world’s leading health journal The Lancet and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.

– Its objective is to enable participatory public engagement to develop a citizens’ blueprint for the implementation of UHC.

– It will be focus on the architecture of India’s health system.

The Commission will be guided by four principles which are:

UHC covers all health concerns.

Prevention and long-term care are key.

The concern is financial protection for all health costs.

Aspiring for a health system that can be accessed by all who enjoy the same quality.

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2020 – Set 72, 14 December

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Daily Important News will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

1. P Ovale Malaria

– A not very common type of malaria namely Plasmodium ovale has been identified recently in a jawan in Kerala. It is believed that the soldier has contracted it in Sudan, where Plasmodium ovale is endemic.

– One of the five kinds of malarial parasites is Plasmodium ovale. The others are  Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax (the commonest ones), Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium Knowlesi.

– It is known as ovate because its 20% od the parasite’s cells are oval in shape.

– For a long time in the spleen or liver the parasite can remain for a long time after the mosquito bite and the person could become symptomatic later.

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  1. Several Development Projects in Gujarat

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake a visit to Dhordo in Kutch, Gujarat on 15th December, 2020 and lay the Foundation Stone of several development projects in the State.

– These projects include a desalination plant, a hybrid renewable energy park, and a fully automated milk processing and packing plant. Chief Minister of Gujarat will be present on the occasion.

– Prime Minister will also undertake a visit to the White Rann, followed by witnessing a cultural programme.

–  Gujarat is taking a significant step towards transforming seawater to potable drinking water with the upcoming Desalination Plant at Mandvi, Kutch.

– This Desalination Plant, with 10 crore litre per day capacity (100 MLD), will strengthen water security in Gujarat by complementing Narmada Grid, Sauni network and treated wastewater infrastructure.

– Nearly 8 lakh people across the regions of Mundra, Lakhpat, Abdasa and Nakhatrana talukas will receive desalinated water from this plant, which will also help in sharing the surplus to upstream districts of Bhachau, Rapar and Gandhidham.

– It is one of the five upcoming desalination plants in Gujarat besides those at Dahej (100 MLD), Dwarka (70 MLD), Ghogha Bhavnagar (70 MLD) and Gir Somnath (30 MLD).

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 12 December, 2020

3. 2001 Parliament terror attack

– The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu today said that terrorism is a serious threat to democracy, individual freedoms and global economic advancement which are the core values of present-day civilisation.

– He pays tributes to the martyrs of 2001 Parliament terror attack.

– Paying rich tributes to the security personnel who sacrificed their lives to defend the Parliament House, Shri Naidu said that their acts of sacrifice will forever be etched in the minds of our countrymen.

– Praising the courage of the CRPF Constable Kamlesh Kumari who first spotted the terrorists and kept tracking and informing about their movements in the Parliament House complex, the Vice President said that her bravery was instrumental in quickly putting down the terrorists’ game plan. “

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 11 December, 2020

4.  Vidyavachaspati Bannanje Govindacharya

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the demise of Vidyavachaspati Bannanje Govindacharya.

– In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, “Vidyavachaspati Bannanje Govindacharya Ji will be remembered for his great contributions to literature. His passion for Sanskrit and Kannada were admirable. His works will continue influencing future generations. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family.

5. Financial Services Centres Authority (Bullion Exchange) Regulations, 2020

– IFSCA notifies International Financial Services Centres Authority (Bullion Exchange) Regulations, 2020.

– In the Union Budget 2020, Union Minister of Finance Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman had made an announcement for setting up an International Bullion Exchange at the International Financial Services Centre in GIFT City, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

– Subsequently, the Government of India had notified the bullion spot delivery contract and bullion depository receipt (with bullion as underlying) as Financial Products and related services as Financial Services under the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) Act, 2019.

About IFSCA

– It has been entrusted with the responsibility of operationalization of this Exchange. In this regard, the International Financial Services Centres Authority (Bullion Exchange) Regulations 2020 were approved by the Authority in its meeting held on 27 October, 2020.

– The said regulations have been notified and published in the Gazette of India on 11 December, 2020.

– The regulations inter alia cover the Bullion Exchange, Clearing Corporation, Depository and Vaults.

– The regulations are divided into 16 chapters. The first half of the regulation deals with the Exchange and Clearing Corporations while the second half pertains to the Vaults and Depositories and related provisions.

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6. “Birding in India”

– The Ministry of Tourism’s Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series titled “ Birding in India” held on 12th December 2020 focused on Birds and Birding opportunities in India.

–  India’s biodiversity is one of the richest in the world. From the Himalayas, Desert, Coast, Rainforest and the tropical islands; India represents almost all ecoregion found on the planet and it is home with over 1300 exotic bird species and to name few Indian Roller, Hornbills, Sarus Crane, Great Indian Bustard, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers and many more!

–  Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series is an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat and it is continuously spreading the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat through a virtual platform.

– ​The Webinar was presented by Mr. Saurabh Sawant, a naturalist, wildlife photographer and a filmmaker with a keen interest in studying, documenting lesser fauna. His research work mainly involves birds, amphibians & odonates.

– Birds play a very important role in Indian culture. In mythology, different birds are associated as Vahanas of Gods & Goddesses.

– Birds are also very close to human beings since ages and it has always been very inspirational to man’s life since stone age to the modern era and from the Stone Age Rock Paintings, Cave Paintings, Mughal Paintings to modern era paintings birds were and are an integral part.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 10 December, 2020

7. MahaSharad

– Maharashtra Social Justice Department will launch MahaSharad.

– MahaSharad stands for Maharashtra System of Health Rehabilitation and Assistance for Divyang.

– It is a digital platform that will provide free tools required by differently-abled people.

8. Indus Valley Diet

– According to the study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science about the diet of the people of Indus Valley Civilisation and had a prominence of meat including extensive eating of beef.

– “Lipid residues in pottery from Indus Civilisation in northwest India’’ study,  looks at the food habits of the people on the basis of lipid residue analysis found in pottery from sites such as Alamgirpur (Meerut), Uttar Pradesh,

Haryana:

Masudpur, LohariRagho, Rakhigarhi city (Hisar)

Khanak (Bhiwani), Farmana town(Rohtak)

– The study also finds about the dominance of animal products like the meat of pigs, cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat, as well as dairy products, from rural and urban settlements of Indus Valley civilisation.

– Cattle/buffalo out of Domestic Animals are the most abundant, averaging between 50-60% of the animal bones found whereas sheep/goat accounting for 10% animal remains.

– Across Indus populations, the High Proportions of cattle bones may suggest a cultural preference for beef consumption and supplemented by consumption of mutton/lamb.

– 90% of the cattle were kept alive at Harappa until they were three or three-and-a-half years which suggest that females were used for dairy production, whereas males were used for traction.

– Previously there have been many studies on the food habit in Indus Valley civilisation before, primarily focusing on crops.

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2020 – Set 71, 12 December

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1. Indigenous mRNA vaccine

– India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine candidate has received approval from Indian Drug regulators to initiate Phase I/II human clinical trial.

– The novel mRNA vaccine candidate, HGCO19 has been developed by Gennova, Pune and supported with seed grant under the Ind-CEPI mission of Department of Biotechnology of M/o Science & Technology.

About mRNA Vaccine

– The mRNA vaccines do not use the conventional model to produce an immune response. Instead, the mRNA vaccine carries the molecular instructions to make the protein in the body through a synthetic RNA of the virus.

– The host body uses this to produce the viral protein that is recognized and thereby making the body mount an immune response against the disease. mRNA-based vaccines are scientifically the ideal choice to address a pandemic because of their rapid developmental timeline.

– The mRNA vaccine is considered safe as is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms.

– They are expected to be highly efficacious because of their inherent capability of being translatable into the protein structure inside the cell cytoplasm.

–  Additionally, mRNA vaccines are fully synthetic and do not require a host for growth, e.g., eggs or bacteria. Therefore, they can be quickly manufactured in an inexpensive manner under cGMP conditions to ensure their “availability” and “accessibility” for mass vaccination on a sustainable basis.

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Development of mRNA Vaccine

– Gennova, in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, Seattle, USA, has worked together to develop an mRNA vaccine candidate.

– HGCO19 has already demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralization antibody activity in animals. The neutralizing antibody response of the vaccine in mice and non-human primates was comparable with the sera from the convalescent patients of COVID-19.

– Gennova’s vaccine candidate uses the most prominent mutant of spike protein (D614G) and also uses the self-amplifying mRNA platform, which gives the advantage of a low dosing regimen compared with the non-replicating mRNA or traditional vaccines.

– HGCO19 is stable at 2-8°C for two months. Gennova has completed all preliminary work and should be initiating the Phase I/II Human clinical trial soon since the approval from the DCGI office has been received.

– The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India is implementing the IndCEPImission ‘India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development: Supporting Indian Vaccine Development’ which is aligned with the Global Initiative of CEPIand aims to strengthen the development of vaccines and associated competencies/technologies for the diseases of epidemic potential in India.

– The Ind-CEPI mission of DBT is implemented by its PSU, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council ( BIRAC).

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 11 December, 2020

2. Hospital Management Information System Trial Project

– Indian Railways has launched another major IT initiative towards according priority for the well-being of its workforce.

– The Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) has been launched by Dr. B. P Nanda, Director General, Railway Health services, Railway Board through virtual means on 11th December, 2020 in the presence of Sri Gajanan Mallya, General Manager, South Central Railway.

– Puneet Chawla, Chairman and Managing Director, Rail Tel Corporation of India, Dr. Prasanna Kumar, PCMD, SCR participated in the programme.

– As per B.P Nanda, the HMIS will bring a paradigm shift in the health care systems maintained by Indian Railways. The new system will improve the quality of health services and aid in utilization of resources in a transparent manner.

– Patients waiting time at the hospitals will be minimized and medical records will be available to the team of doctors at all times.

 About HMIS IN Railways

– The HMIS in Railways has been developed by Indian Railways in coordination with RailTel Corporation Limited. The objective of the HMIS is to provide a single-window of clearance of hospital administration activity such as clinical, diagnostics, pharmacy, examinations, industrial health etc.

– The primary objectives of envisaged solution are:

Effectively manage all the health facilities & its resources

Monitor performance of hospitals across the administrative channel

Impart quality health care services to its beneficiaries

Improve the patient turn-around time

Generate and maintain EMR (electronic medical records) of all patients

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 10 December, 2020

3. MOHUA launches Socio-Economic Profiling

– Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched a programme of Socio-Economic Profiling of PM SVANidhi beneficiaries and their families, as an additional component of PM SVANidhi Scheme, in the presence of representatives of various Central Ministries and State officials.

– Under this, a complete profile of each PM SVANidhi beneficiary and their family members will be prepared. Based on the profiled data, benefits of the various eligible Central Schemes would be extended to them for their holistic socio-economic upliftment.

– In the first phase, 125 cities have been selected for the programme. The profile will identify potential eligibility of beneficiaries and their family members for select Central Government schemes and facilitate linkages.

– Besides this, the States/ UTs would also have an option to extend their respective State/ UT specific welfare schemes to them. M/s Quality Council of India (QCI) has been appointed as implementing partner for the programme.

– Prior to the complete roll-out, MoHUA will run a pilot program in six cities, namely Gaya, Indore, Kakching, Nizamabad, Rajkot, and Varanasi.

– Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is implementing Prime Minister Street Vendors AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme since June 1, 2020, with an objective to provide affordable working capital loan up to ₹10,000 to Street Vendors for facilitating the resumption of their livelihoods adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 9 December, 2020

4. India and Sweden

– Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal today said that India and Sweden should work together to build a more resilient & strong partnership.

– Speaking at the CEO Forum of India-Sweden strategic business partnership, he said that the year 2020 has been a challenging year, but let us convert this crisis into an opportunity.

– Piyush Goyal said “We would like Sweden to be a part of our efforts to expand Indian economy, to reach a higher level of prosperity & design an India suitable for global engagement in the modern 21st-century world. I am sure that the CEO forum & Sweden-India strategic business partnership will help us expand this friendship at every level & make Sweden an important part of India’s own growing economy.”

– The Minister said that India, with 1.35 billion people, provides one of the world’s largest business opportunities. “

– We have a very large & growing middle class, aspiring for a better quality of life. I am sure Swedish companies would love to work in India & explore better opportunities. We believe our renewed focus on technology will help us re-align India’s priorities and Sweden will have an important role to play, being our natural partner for innovation & growth.”, he added.

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5. Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020

– Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has circulated a draft of Indian Ports Bill 2020 for public consultation which will repeal and replace the Indian Ports Act, 1908 (Act No. 15 of 1908).

– The draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020, seeksto, inter alia, enable the structured growth and sustainable development of ports to attract investments in the Port sector for optimum utilisation of the Indian Coastline by effective administration and management of ports.

– The proposed Bill will provide measures to facilitate conservation of ports, taking into account the prevalent situation with respect to the high number of non-operational ports.

–  It shall further ensure greater investment in the Indian maritime and ports sector through the creation of improved, comprehensive regulatory frameworks for the creation of new ports and management of existing ports.

– The Bill also seeks to, inter alia, create an enabling environment for the growth and sustained development of the ports sector in India through the following broad methods:

Constitution of Maritime Port Regulatory Authority

Formulation of the National Port policy and National Port plan in consultation with Coastal State Governments, State Maritime Boards and other stakeholders.

Formulation of specialised Adjudicatory Tribunals namely Maritime Ports Tribunal and Maritime Ports Appellate Tribunal to curb any anti-competitive practises in the port sector and act as a speedy and affordable grievance redressal mechanism.

– The Bill seeks to provide increased opportunities for public and private investments in the Indian maritime and ports sector by way of removing barriers to entry, simplifying processes and establishment of agencies and bodies to plan and enable growth of the ports sector.

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6. 5th India – Myanmar bilateral meeting

– The 5th India- Myanmar Bilateral Meeting on Drug Control Cooperation between the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), India and the Central Committee on Drug Abuse Control, Myanmar was held virtually on 10th December, 2020.

– The Indian delegation was led by the Director-General Narcotics Control Bureau, Shri Rakesh Asthana, and the Myanmar delegation was led by the Commander of the Drug Enforcement Division (DED) cum Joint Secretary of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, Pol. Brig. Gen. Win Naing.

– The Director-General NCB, Shri Rakesh Asthana, highlighted issues particularly the trafficking of Heroin and Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) in the country. He said that the high prevalence of drug abuse in the North Eastern States abutting the Myanmar border is a major cause of concern for India.

– Apart from porosity of the India-Myanmar border, drug trafficking through the maritime route in the Bay of Bengal has emerged as a new challenge for both countries

– NCB has remained committed towards strengthening the existing mechanism of sharing information and assistance with Myanmar, for combating the drug menace in the region.

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7. Karnataka’s new anti-cow slaughter bill

– The Karnataka government has passed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill (2020) in the Assembly.

 In the latest Karnataka Bill ‘beef’ and ‘cattle’ are defined as:

– ‘Beef’ is defined as the flesh of cattle in any form.

– ‘Cattle’ is defined as “cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock, and he or she buffalo below the age of thirteen years”.

– Gau Shalas’: Shelters established for the protection and preservation of cattle registered with the Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.

– Police officers ranked sub-inspector and above or a competent authority will have the power to search premises and seize cattle and materials used or intended to use to commit the offence.

– Such seizures, if any, will then be reported before the Sub Divisional Magistrate without unreasonable delay.

– It is a cognizable offence; violators can attract three to seven years of imprisonment.

– While a penalty between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh can be levied for the first offence, second and subsequent offences can attract penalties ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2020 – Set 70, 11 December

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Daily Important News will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

 1. New Parliament Building

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the New Parliament Building at Sansad Marg, New Delhi on December 10, 2020.

– The new building is an intrinsic part of the vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and will be a landmark opportunity to build peoples’ Parliament for the first time after independence, one which will match the needs and aspirations of ‘New India’ in the 75th anniversary of independence in 2022.

– The New Parliament Building will be modern, state-of-the-art and energy-efficient, with highly non-obtrusive security facilities to be built as a triangular-shaped building, adjacent to the present Parliament.

– Lok Sabha will be 3 times of the existing size and Rajya Sabha will be substantially bigger. The interiors of the new building will showcase a rich blend of Indian culture and diversity of our regional arts, crafts, textiles and architecture.

– The design plan includes space for a magnificent Central Constitutional Gallery, which will be accessible to the public.

– It will have high-quality acoustics and audio-visual facilities, improved and comfortable seating arrangements, effective and inclusive emergency evacuation provisions.

– The building will comply with the highest structural safety standards, including adherence to Seismic Zone 5 requirements and is designed for ease of maintenance and operations.

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2. Odisha Power Generation Corporation Ltd (OPGC)

– The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves acquisition of shares of Odisha Power Generation Corporation Ltd (OPGC) by Odisha Hydro Power Corporation Limited (OHPC) under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002.

About OHPC

– It is a PSU wholly-owned and controlled by the Government of Odisha. It is engaged in the business of generation of power from renewable sources namely, hydroelectric and solar power.

About OPGC

– It is a state-owned joint venture enterprise with Government of Odisha holding 51% shareholding and the remaining 49% shareholding held by AES Corporation, U.S.A through AES OPGC Holding and AES India Private Limited.

– It is engaged in the business of generation of power from coal-based thermal power plants as well as mini hydro power projects.

– The proposed combination involves the acquisition by OHPC of 49% equity shares in OPGC from AES OPGC Holding and AES India, pursuant to the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 8 December, 2020

3. 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award

– The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah has greeted Invest India for winning the UNCTAD’s 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award.

– In his tweet, the Union Home Minister said, “Kudos to Invest India for winning the UNCTAD’s 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award. This remarkable achievement echoes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tireless efforts and visionary leadership to make India a preferred investment destination with a focus on ease of doing business.”

About the United Nations Investment Promotion Award

– This United Nations Investment Promotion Award is the most coveted award for Investment Promotion Agencies.

– The award ceremony took place on December 7, 2020 at UNCTAD Headquarters in Geneva.

– The award recognizes outstanding achievements and best practices of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) across the globe. The evaluation was based on UNCTAD’s assessment of work undertaken by 180 IPAs.

– UNCTAD highlighted good practices followed by Invest India, such as the Business Immunity Platform, Exclusive Investment Forum webinar series, its social media engagement and focus COVID response teams(such as business reconstruction, stakeholder outreach and supplier outreach) created as a response to the pandemic, in its publications.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 7 December, 2020

4. A New Digital platform ‘CO-WIN’

– A New Digital platform ‘CO-WIN’ is being used for COVID-19 Vaccination Delivery.

– About 30 crore line-listed for COVID-19 vaccination, includes healthcare and frontline workers, prioritized population groups.

– About 1.54 lakh ANMs working for Universal Immunization Programmes to work as COVID vaccinators, more vaccinators to be arranged in collaboration with states and UTs.

– A transparent, effective & sustained communication strategy on vaccine safety and effectiveness is crucial for educating people, dispelling doubts: Health Secretary.

About ‘CO-WIN’

– ‘CO-WIN’ is a user-friendly mobile app for recording vaccine data is working as a beneficiary management platform having various modules. In the process of forming a database of Healthcare Workers, which is in an advanced stage across all States/UTs, data is presently being uploaded on the Co-WIN platform.

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5. 260th Army Service Corps Day

The Army Service Corps (ASC), the oldest and the largest administrative service in the Indian Army, is celebrated 260th Corps Day on 08 December 2020.

– From a modest beginning during the rule of the East India Company, The Corps extended the scope of its activities, and now operates on land, water as well as in the air.

– The Corps has been a backbone to the fighting forces campaigns in three continents and over all types of terrain from dry deserts to snowy mountains, jungles and high-altitude areas.

– The brave soldiers of Army Service Corps have been awarded 568 honours pre-independence and one Maha Vir Chakra, 14 Vir Chakras, four Kirti Chakras, one Ashok Chakra, 21 Shaurya Chakras and 134 Sena Medals post-independence.

– Army Service Corps has always encouraged worthy sports persons and takes immense pride in its four Arjuna Awardees, three Hockey Olympians, the daredevil ‘Tornado’ motorcycle team and various other distinguished players in the fields of Archery, Boxing, Aquatics and Equestrian Sports.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 27 November, 2020

6. India International Science Festival (IISF) 2020

– Dr Harsh Vardhan virtually addresses the Curtain Raiser function of IISF 2020 organised by Defence Institute of High Altitude of DRDO, Ladakh.

– Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that “Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) has been chosen for the event due to its unique contributions to the region of Ladakh in improving living conditions of local population and soldiers through scientific development and also for contributing to military-civil fusion in this strategically located area.”

– The theme for IISF-2020: ‘Science for Self-Reliant India and Global Welfare’ is very relevant in the present context when the nation is looking towards Science & Technology for accelerating growth and for spearheading vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat” said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

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7. Havana Syndrome

– A mysterious neurological illness namely “Havana Syndrome”, nearly four years ago started to afflict American diplomats and intelligence operatives in Cuba, China, and other countries.

– National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report found that “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.

-About ‘Havana syndrome’

– US diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana in late 2016 reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.

– The symptoms are nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 25 November, 2020

8. U.S., China dominate the arms market

– A report has been released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on the arms market across the world.

As per the report;

– The U.S. arms industry accounted for 61% of sales by the world’s “Top 25” manufacturers last year, ahead of China’s 15.7%.

– In terms of global arms spending, China and the United States are the two biggest states.

– Total sales by the “Top 25” rose by 8.5% to $361 billion, or 50 times the annual budget of the UN’s peacekeeping operations.

– A company from West Asia for the first time made it into the “Top 25”: EDGE, of the United Arab Emirates. In 2019, it was formed by the consolidation of some 25 defence entities.

About SIPRI

– In 1966, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) was established. It is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2020 – Set 67, 8 December

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Daily Important News will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

1. Investment Promotion Award 2020

– The United Nations (UNCTAD) has declared Invest India- the National Investment Promotion Agency of India as a winner of the 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award.

– The award ceremony took place on 7th December 2020 at UNCTAD Headquarters in Geneva.

– The award recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements and best practices of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) across the globe.

– The evaluation was based on UNCTAD’s assessment of work undertaken by 180 Investment Promotion Agencies.

–  In March 2020, UNCTAD constituted a team to monitor the response of IPAs to the COVID-19 pandemic.

– UNCTAD reported best practices from Investment Promotion Agencies in the IPA Observer publications in April and July 2020.

– UNCTAD highlighted good practices followed by Invest India, such as the Business Immunity Platform, Exclusive Investment Forum webinar series, its social media engagement and focus COVID response teams including business reconstruction, stakeholder outreach and supplier outreach created as a response to the pandemic, in its publications.

About United Nations Investment Promotion Award

– It is the most coveted award for Investment Promotion Agencies. UNCTAD is a central agency that monitors the performance of IPAs and identifies global best practices. Germany, South Korea and Singapore have been some of the past winners of the award.

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2. Air Pollution

Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said that the Central Government has been taking all steps possible to combat air pollution in Delhi and North India and is working towards deploying all possible technological interventions towards that.

– Speaking at the 4th Roundtable Consultation on ‘Clearing the Air – Driving central and state-level actions’ jointly hosted by TERI and Air Quality Asia, an international air quality advocacy group, the Environment Minister stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put a firm resolve to improve the air quality of 100 cities in next 5 years.

– The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change through its National Clean Air Programme, which is a city-specific plan is working in that direction with a target to achieve 20 to 30 % reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations by 2024.

– Speaking on the peculiar nature of Air Pollution in Northern India especially Delhi-NCR the minister said that the crisis of air pollution can be attributed to primary factors like industrial emissions, vehicular emissions, dust from construction and demolition sites, stubble burning for around 50-60 days in a year, biomass burning and poor legacy waste management.

– The Minister highlighted a host of initiatives including scientific and technological interventions taken by the Central government to mitigate the menace of Air Pollution in the last few years.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 7 December, 2020

3. Auction for Sale (Re-issue)

– The Government of India (GoI) has announced the Sale (Re-issue) of:

(i) ‘3.96% Government Security, 2022’ for a notified amount of Rs 2,000 crore (nominal) through price based auction,

(ii) ‘5.15% Government Security, 2025’ for a notified amount of Rs 11,000 crore (nominal) through price based auction,

(iii) ‘5.85% Government Security, 2030’ for a notified amount of Rs 9,000 crore (nominal) through price based auction, and

(iv) ‘6.80%  Government Security, 2060’ for a notified amount of Rs 6,000 crore (nominal) through price based auction.

– GoI will have the option to retain additional subscription up to Rs 2,000 crore against each of the above securities.

– The auctions will be conducted by the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai Office, Fort, Mumbai on December 11, 2020 using multiple price method.

– Up to 5% of the notified amount of the sale of the Securities will be allotted to eligible individuals and Institutions as per the Scheme for Non-Competitive Bidding Facility in the Auction of Government Securities.

– Both competitive and non-competitive bids for the auction should be submitted in electronic format on the Reserve Bank of India Core Banking Solution (E-Kuber) system on December 11, 2020.

– The result of the auctions will be announced on December 11, 2020 and payment by successful bidders will be on December 14, 2020.

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4. Two new Zoos one each in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh granted recognition

– At the 37th General Body meeting of Central Zoo Authority chaired by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar two new zoos the Rajgir Zoo Safari in Nalanda, Bihar and Shaheed Ashfaque Ullah Khan Prani Udyaan in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh were granted recognition.

– The Environment Minister also applauded the good progress in developing a 10-year Vision Plan for the up-gradation of 15 select zoos in the country to global standards which is hoped to ‘twin’ top Indian and foreign zoos and also bring in the corporate sector to invest in modernization as part of this project.

– The Minister also said that early next year an investors summit will also happen to take this agenda forward.

About Rajgir Zoo Safari, Nalanda, Bihar

– Rajgir Zoo Safari, in the eastern state of Bihar, was granted recognition during the General Body meeting of the Central Zoo Authority on December 07, 2020.

– The zoo is established exclusively comprising on only safari enclosures which, on contrary to the conventional enclosure, offer larger space for captive animals.

– There are five safari enclosures and a walk-in proposed in the zoo. The zoo proposes to house Lion, Bear, Tiger, Leopard and a mixed safari of common herbivore species such as Spotted Deer, Sambar among others.

– The zoo is located close to the historically important Nalanda and is expected to have a high footfall.

– The zoo will display wild animals in naturalistic safari enclosures and promote awareness of towards wildlife conservation.

About Shaheed Ashfaque Ullah Khan Prani Udyaan, Gorakhpur, U.P.

– Shaheed Ashfaque Ullah Khan Prani Udyaan, Gorakhpur, U.P Bihar was granted recognition during the General Body meeting of the Central Zoo Authority on December 07, 2020.

– With this, the state of Uttar Pradesh has a total of 9 zoos. The establishment of the zoo is personally monitoring by the Chief Minister of the state.

– The zoo is situated in the spiritual land of Gorakhpur and has a high visitation. The zoo features enclosures for a range of birds, herbivores and carnivores.

– The zoo aims to create awareness through naturalistic enclosures and create long-lasting visitor experience through state-of-the-art visitor facilities like 4D Theatre, battery-operated train and accessibility to Divyangjan.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 27 November, 2020

5. Senior Scientist Award 2020

Dr. Samir Damare, Principal Scientist and Head Analytical Services Division, at CSIR-NIO, Goa has been selected for the Senior Scientist Award for the year 2020, by the Microbiologists Society, India.

– The award is presented annually to Microbiologists working in different fields.

– Dr. Damare has received this award in recognition of his research in the field of Microbiology, Extremophiles, Biotechnology & Molecular Biology. The award will be presented during the Annual Meeting of Society.

About Microbiologists Society, India

– It was established in March 1996. It has over 30 sub-units all over India and 6 units outside India, and over 70 plus Student Units in different Colleges and Universities across India. The Society has over 528 Life Members.

About Dr. Damare

– Dr. Damare has 33 publications in reputed national and international journals. He has successfully guided 3 PhD students and 23 students for Internship, Project Work and Dissertation. At present 4 students are registered for PhD with him at Goa University and AcSIR.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 25 November, 2020

6. SJVN signs MoU with IREDA for Green Energy Projects

– SJVN Limited, a PSU under Ministry of Power has entered an MoU with Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA). IREDA, a PSU under Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, will provide its services to SJVN for Green Energy projects.

– The MoU was signed by Nand Lal Sharma, CMD, SJVN and Pradip Kumar Das, CMD, IREDA in the presence of Akhileshwar Singh, Director (Finance), SJVN, Surinder Pal Bansal, Director (Civil), SJVN,  Chintan Shah, Director (Technical), IREDA, and other senior officials through virtual mode.

– On the occasion Nand Lal Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director told that as per MoU, IREDA will undertake Techno-Financial due diligence of Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency & Conservation Projects for SJVN.

– Under the MoU, IREDA will also assist SJVN in developing an action plan to create and acquire Renewable Energy projects for the next 5 years.

– SJVN is committed to contribute in realizing the renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022 set by Hon’ble Prime Minister.

– The steps in this direction have already been taken and presently SJVN is developing 100 MW Dholera Solar Power Project & 100 MW Raghanseda Solar Power Project in Gujarat.

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2020 – Set 66, 7 December

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