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. Udyog Manthan

Why in news?

Udyog Manthan: Marathon of focused webinars for promoting Quality and Productivity in Indian Industry concluded (4th January – 2nd March 2021)

Key points are:

– During the last eight weeks, 46 sessions covering 70% of GDP have been conducted including Automobile, Steel, Pharma, Defence, Cement, Textiles.

– 393 speakers and 17,000+ viewers over various media platforms and an approx 6.5 million+ social media impressions.

– Piyush Goyal said, “Quality is not an accident, it is a result of painstaking effort”. He emphasised, “Quality is non-negotiable if we want to Make in India”.

– Many high-profile International speakers and experts shared valuable insights on Global Best Practices.

– Recommendations on all major sectors are being consolidated in a sectoral compendium to be published soon.

2. Central Revenues Control Laboratory

Why in news?

Central Revenues Control Laboratory (CRCL), New Delhi, under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs, on 2 March, 2021 recognized as a Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL) of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for Asia-Pacific Region.

Key points are:

– In a virtual signing ceremony Mr. KunioMikuriya, Secretary-General, WCO and Mr. M. Ajit Kumar, Chairman, CBIC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this behalf.

– Established in 1939, CRCL is the headquarters of 14 Revenue Laboratories, including 2 laboratories working at Government Opium & Alkaloid Works, Ghazipur&Neemuch.

– These laboratories have been upgraded extensively in the past 3 years and new state-of-art equipment, costing about Rs.80 crore, have been installed.

– With the introduction of instrument-based testing, Revenue Laboratories are, now, facilitating faster clearances, without compromising on law enforcement, and thereby playing a vital role in trade facilitation.

– With its recognition as RCL, CRCL joins a select group of Customs Laboratories in the region like those in Japan & Korea.

– On this occasion, Secretary-General Mr. KunioMikuriya complimented the Indian Customs Administration and the CRCL for achieving this distinction.

– Mr. M. Ajit Kumar, Chairman, CBIC underlined the active role played by India in Customs co-operation and reiterated the commitment of the Indian Customs Administration to play a leading role in the region through this newly recognised Regional Customs Laboratory.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 1 March, 2021

3. World Wildlife Day

Why in news?

World Wildlife Day is observed annually on March 3 to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s flora and fauna.

Key points are:

– This year’s theme for World Wildlife Day is “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”.

– The day is about raising awareness about wildlife and educating yourself and others about the diversity and importance of flora and fauna across the world.

– On December 20, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness about animals and plants on our planet.

– In its resolution, the United Nations General Assembly stressed the importance of flora and fauna and reaffirmed the intrinsic value and various contributions of wildlife.

– The UN went on to declare that World Wildlife Day would be dedicated to keeping people aware and updated about the changing nature of the world and the flora and fauna that are constantly threatened by human activities.

– The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of World Wildlife Day.

4. ‘The Opportunity Index 2021’

Why in news?

‘The Opportunity Index 2021’ is a new report by LinkedIn. The survey, conducted in January, saw participation from more than 10,000 respondents across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. It covered 2,285 respondents in India.

Key points are:

– 9 in 10 or 89 per cent of women were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

– About 85% or four in five working women in India believe they have missed out on a raise, promotion, or work offer because of their gender. This average stands at 60% for the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

– More women in India have experienced the impact of gender on career development when compared to the APAC region.

Challenges for women are:

– Lack of time and discrimination for family care.

– Gender is a barrier when it comes to attaining opportunities.

– Lack of guidance through networks.

– Workplace discrimination because of household responsibilities.

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5. Revising National Food Security Act, 2013

Why in news?

NITI Aayog, through a discussion paper, has recommended reducing the rural and urban coverage under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, to 60% and 40%, respectively. It has also proposed a revision of beneficiaries as per the latest population which is currently being done through Census- 2011.

Key points are:

– Approximately 2.37 crore households or 9.01 crore persons, as in February 2021 under Antyodaya Anna Yojana.

– While approximately 70.35 crore persons are under the priority households.

– If the rural-urban coverage ratio remains the same (67% of all population), then the total number of people covered will increase from the existing 81.35 crore to 89.52 crore – an increase of 8.17 crore (based on the projected 2020 population).

– This will result in an additional subsidy requirement of Rs. 14,800 crore.

– If the national coverage ratio is revised downward, the Centre can save up to Rs. 47,229 crore.

– This amount of savings can be utilised by the Government in other important areas of concern such as health and education.

Challenges are:

– In the times of the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be a double burden (Unemployment and Food insecurity issues) on the poor section of the society.

– The move may be opposed by some of the states.

6. WhatsApp’s new policy being examined

Why in news?

The Central government has informed the Delhi High Court that it was examining WhatsApp’s controversial new privacy policy, which is scheduled to come into effect from May 15, at the highest level.

Key points are:

The court was hearing a petition claiming that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy violates the right to privacy guaranteed under the Constitution.

– The plea said the new policy “virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity” without there being any supervision of the government.

– The plea sought a direction to issue guidelines to ensure such change in the privacy policy by WhatsApp are carried out.

Policy key features are:

Information Sharing with Third-Party Services: When users rely on third-party services or other Facebook Company Products that are integrated with our Services, those third-party services may receive information about what you or others share with them.

Hardware Information: WhatsApp collects information from devices such as battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP) among others.

Deleting the Account: If someone only deletes the WhatsApp app from their device without using the in-app delete my account feature, then that user’s information will remain stored with the platform.

Data Storage: WhatsApp mentions that it uses Facebook’s global infrastructure and data centers including those in the United States to store user data. It also states that the data in some cases will be transferred to the United States or other parts where Facebook’s affiliate companies are based.

Location: Even if a user does not use their location-relation features, Whatsapp collects IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (city, country).

Payment Services: WhatsApp says that if anyone uses their payments services they will process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.

7. Formation & Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs)

Why in news?

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare celebrated the first anniversary of the Central Sector Scheme titled ‘Formation & Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs)’.

Key points are:

In February 2020, at Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh) with a budgetary provision of Rs. 6865 crore.

About:

– More than 2200 FPOs produce clusters have been allocated for the formation of FPOs in 2020-21.

– Implementing Agencies (IAs) are engaging Cluster-Based Business Organizations (CBBOs) to aggregate, register & provide professional handholding support to each FPO for a period of 5 years.

– CBBOs will be the platform for an end to end knowledge for all issues related to FPO promotion.

– Financial Assistance: Up to Rs. 18.00 lakh per FPO for a period of 3 years. Provision has also been made for matching equity grant up to Rs. 2,000 per farmer member of FPO with a limit of Rs. 15.00 lakh per FPO.

– Provision of a credit guarantee facility up to Rs. 2 crores of project loan per FPO from the eligible lending institution to ensure institutional credit accessibility to FPOs.

– It will promote the selling of farmers’ produce from the farm gate of farmers thereby enhancing farmers’ income.

– This will shorten the supply chain and accordingly marketing costs will get reduced resulting in better income for farmers.

 

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. Sugamya Bharat App” and Handbook “Access – The Photo Digest”

Why in news?

Union Minister for Social justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot will virtually launch “Sugamya Bharat App” and a handbook entitled “Access – The Photo Digest” through video conference on 2nd March, 2021.

Key points are:

– The App and the handbook have been developed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

– The Mobile App can be downloaded from Play Store by Android users. The IoS version of the App will be available by 15th March 2021.

– Sugamya Bharat APP — a Crowdsourcing Mobile Application is a means for sensitising and enhancing accessibility in the 3 pillars of the Accessible India Campaign i.e. built environment, transportation sector and ICT ecosystem in India.

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– The app provides for five main features, 4 of which are directly related to enhancing accessibility, while the fifth is a special feature meant only for Divyangjan for COVID related issues.

– The accessibility related features are: the registration of complaints of inaccessibility across the 3 broad pillars of the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyaan; positive feedback of examples and best practices worth emulating being shared by people as jan-bhagidhari; Departmental updates; and guidelines and circulars related to accessibility.

– The Sugamya Bharat App is a simple to use Mobile App with an easy registration process, requiring only 3 mandatory fields, namely, Name, Mobile number and Email-id. Registered users can raise issues related to accessibility being faced.

– The App has been provided with several user-friendly features like easy drop-down menus, videos in Hindi and English, along with sign language interpretation have been added demonstrating the process of registration and uploading complaints with photographs.

– The App is made accessible for ease of use for persons with disabilities also with features such as font size adjustment, color contrasting option, text to speech, and having an integrated screen reader in Hindi and English.

–  It is available in 10 regional languages, namely, Hindi, English, Marathi, Tamil, Odiya, Kannada, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Malayalam.

– The App also has provision of easy photo uploads with geotagging option of the premise where accessibility intervention is required.

– The App has provision for providing notifications to the users at the time of registration, regular status updates as well as at the time of resolution and closure of the complaint.

– DEPwD has also prepared a handbook entitled “Access – The Photo Digest” with a collection of photographs from across different States and UTs.

– This Book is envisaged as a tool and guide to sensitise stakeholders about 10 basic features of accessibility and related good-bad practices in easy to understand pictorial form.

– The electronic version of this handbook will also be available on the App and the website of the Department.

  1. Policy of Neutrality

Why in news?

Recently, Switzerland’s Ambassador said that its traditional foreign Policy of Neutrality (Swiss Neutrality) has become attractive again because of the changing political reality in the world.

Key points are:

– It is a foreign policy position wherein a state intends to remain neutral in future wars. A sovereign state that reserves the right to become belligerent if attacked by a party to the war is in a condition of armed neutrality.

– A permanently neutral power is a sovereign state which is bound by international treaty, or by its own declaration, to be neutral towards the belligerents of all future wars. An example of a permanently neutral power is Switzerland. Other being Ireland, Austria, etc.

– The concept of neutrality in war is narrowly defined and puts specific constraints on the neutral party in return for the internationally recognized right to remain neutral.

– International Day of Neutrality is a United Nations recognized day held on 12th December each year to raise public awareness of the value of neutrality in international relations.

– National policies of neutrality are aimed at promoting the use of preventive diplomacy, which is a core function of the United Nations.

–  The term “Preventive diplomacy” refers to diplomatic action taken to prevent disputes from escalating into conflicts and to limit the spread of conflicts when they occur.

  1. First ‘India Toy Fair 2021’

Why in news?

India’s first Toy Fair will be held virtually from February 27 to March 2, 2021 and all children, parents, teachers and exhibitors willing to participate must register themselves on the India Toy Fair 2021 website launched by the government on February 11.

Key points are:

– t is the first ever digitally accessible exhibition and platform which will provide an opportunity to explore and buy a variety of toys from over 1,000 exhibitors across states and union territories, and participate in insightful webinars, panel discussions and activities, and network with various stakeholders from the toy industry.

– Hamleys, the oldest British multinational toy retailer, owned by Reliance Retail, is the tile sponsor of the event and will set up its virtual booth at the fair as well.

– he multinational retailer will also launch its toy circles in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.

– A CSR activity from Hamleys will provide toy kits and play items for children of Aanganwadis workers. Wooden toys will also be procured for 743 aagnanwadis and distributed to these kids.

– The main attractions of the fair include a virtual exhibition with over 1,000 stalls, knowledge sessions with engaging panel discussions and webinars on diverse topics by experts on areas including toy-based learning, craft demonstrations, competitions, quizzes, virtual tours, product launches, etc.

– For education sector in particular, the knowledge sessions involving various experts will focus on areas emphasised in the NEP 2020 such as play-based and activity-based learning, indoor and outdoor play, use of puzzles and games to promote critical thinking and overall on how to make learning more engaging and enjoyable.

  1. “2003 Ceasefire agreement”

Why in news?

India and Pakistan have issued a joint statement to strictly observe the 2003 Ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC).

Key points are:

– The ceasefire agreement was reached in November 2003, four years after the Kargil War.

– On November 26, 2003 the ceasefire took effect along the entire stretch of the India-Pakistan frontier.

– It facilitated the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot routes, paving the way for bus and truck services linking the two Kashmirs for the first time in six decades and encouraging cross-LoC contacts, exchanges, travel, and trade.

– The ceasefire also enabled India to complete the construction of a fence near the LoC to prevent Pakistan’s infiltration of terrorists into Kashmir, a project that it had begun a couple of decades earlier but had to suspend due to Pakistan’s artillery fire.

– This is not the first time that India and Pakistan have agreed to give peace a chance on the LoC to make the lives of civilians living along the line easy.

– The 2003 ceasefire agreement remains a milestone as it brought peace along the LoC until 2006. Between 2003 and 2006, not a single bullet was fired by the jawans of India and Pakistan.

– But since 2006, ceasefire violations became the norm with increasing frequency. Recent years have seen an increasing number of ceasefire violations despite an agreement reached in 2018 to adhere to the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

  1. India Emerged Out of Technical Recession

Why in news?

The Indian economy has emerged out of technical recession as it grew at 0.4% in the third (October-December) quarter of 2020-21 with improvement in manufacturing, construction and agriculture.

Key points are:

– The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had contracted by 24.4% and 7.3% in the April-June and July-September quarters, respectively, marking a technical recession in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

– A technical recession is when a country faces a continuous decline for two consecutive quarters in the GDP.

– For the full fiscal year (2020-21), the National Statistical Office (NSO) has projected a contraction of 8%, higher than the forecasts of the Economic Survey (7.7%) and the Reserve Bank of India (7.5%).

– The real GDP growth estimate for the third quarter (2020-21) is at 0.4%. In the corresponding quarter last year, the economy had grown 3.3%.

– For the April-June quarter (Q1) and July-September (Q2), the contraction numbers were revised from 23.9% to 24.4% and 7.5% to 7.3%, respectively.

– With improved performance of manufacturing, electricity and construction, industry recorded a growth rate of 2.6% in the third quarter against the contraction in the first two.

– However, services, with the largest share in GDP at 57%, still remained in the contraction zone with a 0.9% fall year-on-year.

– Financial, real estate and professional services grew 6.6% as against 9.5% contraction in the previous quarter and 5.5% growth in the corresponding period last year.

– Mining, trade, hotels, transport, communication and broadcasting services and public administration services continued to stay in the negative territory in the third quarter registering a contraction of 5.9 %, 7.7%, and 1.5%, respectively.

– India’s eight core sectors recorded a meagre 0.1% rise in output in January 2021, propped up by a 5.1% rise in electricity, 2.7% growth in fertilizers and 2.6% growth in steel production, even as the other five sectors contracted.

– Coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, and cement recorded negative growth in January.

– The eight core industries constitute 40.27% of the Index of Industrial Production.

– Growth in agriculture jumped 3.9% in October-December compared with 3% growth in July-September and 3.4% growth during the corresponding quarter last year.

  1. Vivad Se Vishwas scheme

Why in news?

The Income Tax Department on Friday extended the deadline for filing declarations and making payment under the direct tax dispute resolution scheme ‘Vivad Se Vishwas’ (VsV) till March 31 and April 30.

Key points are:

– The Direct Tax ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ Act, 2020 was enacted on March 17, 2020, with the objective to reduce pending income tax litigation, generate timely revenue for the government and to benefit taxpayers.

– The scheme aims to end litigation and legacy disputes under the direct taxes category as ₹9.32 lakh crore worth of revenue is blocked in approximately 4.8 lakh appeals pending at various income tax appellate forums.

– The entities who opt for the scheme have to pay a requisite tax following which all litigation against them are closed by the tax department and penal proceedings dropped.

– It should be noted that the response to the scheme gains significance given earlier schemes like Kar Vivad Samadhan Scheme, 1998 (KVSS) and Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2016 (DTDRS) did not yield much results.

– The scheme has reportedly received an overwhelming response with a settlement amount of over Rs 97,000 crore as of February.

– So far, over 1,25,144 of the 5,10,491 long-pending cases have been settled under the scheme.

– These comprise 24.5 per cent of the total number of such cases which were pending before the scheme was introduced.

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. Consecration ceremony of Mahamrityunjayatemple

Why in news?

Union Home Minister Amit Shah attended the consecration ceremony of Mahamrityunjayatemple in Naugaon, Assam on 26 February, 2021.

Key points are:

– Amit Shah said that it was a privilege to participate in the consecration ceremony of the world’s tallest 126 feet high Shivling in the Mahamrityunjaya temple.

– The vow of Shri Bhrigugiri Ji Maharaj has been fulfilled. The Union Home Minister said that he prayed to Mahadev for the good health and prosperity of all countrymen.

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– Amit Shah also visited Boroduapilgrimage, the birthplace of MahapurushShrimantShankardev.

– ShrimantShankardev started the new Vaishnav tradition from this holy land and made the Vaishnavite tradition vibrant. It was from here that Shri Shankardev started to give a new devotional culture to Assam and Shri Madhavdev took it forward.

– Besides starting the Bhakti Movement, ShrimantShankardevinitiated several steps for the unity of India.

– Amit Shah also said that Mahatma Gandhi had said during the Freedom Movement that “Assam is very fortunate that Shankardevwas born here 500 years ago, who gave the people of Assam a model that revived the concept of Ram Rajya.”

  1. 2nd Khelo India National Winter Games

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the inaugural address at 2nd Khelo India National Winter Games through video conference.

Key points are:

– Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said the second edition of Khelo India-Winter Games is starting from 26 February, 2021.

– This is a major step towards making Jammu and Kashmir a major hub with India’s effective presence in the Winter Games.

– The Prime Minister said that sports has a global dimension and this vision has been guiding the recent reforms in the sports ecosystem. There is a holistic approach from the Khelo India Campaign to Olympic Podium stadium.

– Hand holding of sports professionals is being done from recognition of talent at grassroot level to bringing them to the highest global platform.

– The Prime Minister informed that Institutes of Higher education and Sports University are being established for sports.

– He emphasized the need to take  sports sciences and sports management to the school level as that will improve the career prospects of the youth and will enhance India’s presence in the sports economy.

  1. E-Daakhil portal

Why in news?

E-Daakhil portal for Consumer grievance redressal is now operational in 15 States/UTs. Department of Consumer Affairs is now proactively following up with the states to launch e-filing portal at their ends.

Key points are:

– E-Daakhil portal, launched by National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on 7th September, 2020,  for online redressal of consumer grievances now operational in 15 States/UTs.

– Total 444 locations covered including NCDRC, State Commissions and District Commissions.

– Process to file consumer complaints made easy and simple through e-daakhil portal.

– Digital Portal will streamline consumer complaints redressal system.

– To facilitate Rural Consumers, the Common Service Centres to be integrated with e-daakhil portal.

– Department of Consumer Affairs proactively following up with the States/UTs to launch e-filing portal.

– The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which has come into force from 20th July, 2020, has provision for e-filing of consumer complaints in the Consumer Commissions and online payment of the fees for filing a complaint.

– To facilitate the rural consumers for e-filing, it has been decided to integrate the Common Service Centres (CSC) with the e-daakhil portal.

– As many consumers at Gram Panchayat level may either not have access to electronic modes of communication or unable to use the tools, they may avail the services of CSCs in filing their complaints in the Consumer Commission.

– The work for integration of this portal with CSC is in under process.

– E-filing was launched by National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on 7th September, 2020.

– Delhi was the first state to implement it on 8th September, 2020.  Later Maharashtra, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka & Haryana implemented facility of e-filling in their respective States/UTs.

  1. New chief for National Commission for SCs

Why in news?

New chief for National Commission for SCs has been appointed namely Vijay Sampla.

Key points are:

– In order to provide the Scheduled Castes of Indian society safeguards against exploitation and to promote their social, economic, educational and cultural development, the Commission was set up by the Government of India.

– The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.

– By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) from February, 2004.

– It consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.

  1. Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2021

Why in news?

Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2021.

Key points are:

– The Bill seeks to replace the ordinance promulgated in November last year that seeks to curb religious conversions carried out by fraudulent or any other undue means.

– It makes religious conversion for marriage a non-bailable offence.

– The onus will be on the defendant to prove that conversion was not for marriage.

– The notice period to the district magistrate for the religious conversion is two months.

– In case of conversion done by a woman for the sole purpose of marriage, the marriage would be declared null and void.

– Violation of the provisions of the law would invite a jail term of not less than one year extendable to five years with a fine of ₹15,000.

– If a minor woman or a woman from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes communities was converted through the said unlawful means, the jail term would be a minimum of three years and could be extended to 10 years with a fine of ₹25,000.

– The Bill also lays down strict action, including cancellation of registration of social organisations conducting mass conversions.

– The ordinance, passed in November 2020, comes days after the Allahabad high court said in a verdict (Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case) that the right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty.

– The verdict also said earlier court rulings that ‘religious conversion for marriage was unacceptable’ was not good in law.

– The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefit do not hold water.

  1. International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD)

Why in news?

International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) Symposium on Sustainable Development of Dams & River Basins inaugurated.

Key points are:

– The symposium is being organised by ICOLD in collaboration with the Central Water Commission (CWC), Dam Rehabilitation Improvement Project (DRIP) and National Hydrology Project (NHP) in New Delhi.

– The symposium is being organised to provide an excellent opportunity to Indian Dam Engineering Professionals and Agencies to share their experiences, ideas and latest developments in new materials and construction technologies, advancement in investigation techniques, best engineering practices, dam safety issues, etc.

About International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD):

– The International Commission On Large Dams (ICOLD) is a non-governmental International Organization which provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in dam engineering.

– ICOLD was founded in 1928 and has National Committees from more than 100 countries with approximately 10000 individual members.

– The members are mostly practising engineers, geologists and scientists form governmental or private organizations, consulting firms, universities, laboratories and construction companies.

– ICOLD leads the profession in setting standards and guidelines to ensure that dams are built and operated safely, efficiently, economically, and are environmentally sustainable and socially equitable.

– It is headquartered in Paris, France.

  1. First country to receive COVAX vaccines

Why in news?

Ghana became the first country to receive vaccines under COVAX – an initiative to reduce vaccine disparity between high- and low-income countries – with 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arriving in the capital Accra.

About COVAX

– It is a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and two international groups – the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – which aims to send vaccines to developing countries.

– The majority of its funding has come from high-income countries and international organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

  1. India & Mauritius

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet has approved signing of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius.

Key points are:

– The India-Mauritius CECPA is the first trade agreement signed by India with a country in Africa.

– CECPA is a kind of free trade pact that aims to provide an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.

– Under this agreement, countries reduce or eliminate the duties on the products. The countries also give relaxation in the norms to promote the services trade.

– India-Mauritius CECPA: It is a limited agreement that will cover only select sectors. It will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, etc.

– Benefit to India: More than 300 domestic goods from agriculture, textiles, electronics and other sectors will get market access at concessional customs duties in Mauritius.

– Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors, such as professional services, computer related services, research & development, other business services, etc.

– Benefit to Mauritius: It will benefit from preferential market access into India for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

– India has offered around 95 sub-sectors from the 11 broad services sectors, including professional services, R&D, other business services, telecommunication, environmental, health, etc.

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. Various development projects in Puducherry

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for 4 laning of NH45-A covering Karaikal District and Medical College Building at Karaikal New Campus- Phase I, Karaikal District (JIPMER).

He also laid the foundation stone for development of Minor Port at Puducherry under Sagarmala Scheme and Synthetic Athletic Track, Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, Puducherry.

Key points are:

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Narendra Modi inaugurated the Blood Centre at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Puducherry and a 100 bed girls’ hostel at Lawspet, Puducherry for female athletes.

– He also inaugurated the reconstructed Heritage Marie Building.

– The Prime Minister said this land of Puducherry has been home to sages, scholars and poets and also to revolutionaries like Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi and Sri Aurobindo.

– Admiring Puducherry as a symbol of diversity, he said here people speak different languages, practice different faiths but live as one.

– The Prime Minister said India that four laning of NH 45-A would cover Karaikal District and improve the connectivity to the holy Saneeswaran Temple and also provide easy interstate connectivity to the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health and Nagor Dargah.

– Laying the foundation of Puducherry Port Development under Sagarmala Scheme, the Prime Minister hoped that once completed, it will help the fishermen who have been using this port for venturing into sea for fishing operations.

– t will provide much needed sea connectivity to Chennai. This will facilitate the cargo movement for industries of Puducherry and ease load on Chennai port. It will open up possibilities of passenger traffic among the coastal cities, he said.

– The Prime Minister said Direct Benefit Transfer has helped beneficiaries under various welfare schemes. He said this makes people empowered for making their choices.

  1. Sri Mannathu Padmanabhan Ji Punya Tithi

Why in news?

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Sri Mannathu Padmanabhan Ji on his Punya Tithi on 25th February, 2021.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, “Tributes to Sri Mannathu Padmanabhan Ji on his Punya Tithi. We recall his long lasting contributions towards social welfare and youth empowerment. His rich thoughts continue to motivate many.”

  1. Ram Nath Kovind performed Bhoomi Pujan (ground breaking ceremony) of a huge sports enclave in Ahmedabad

Why in news?

The President Shri Ram Nath Kovind performed Bhoomi Pujan (ground breaking ceremony) of a huge sports enclave in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 24 February, 2021 named after Bharat Ratna and brave son of Gujarat, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Key points are:

– President also inaugurated the world’s largest sports stadium, ‘Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium’, this largest cricket stadium in the world is part of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel sports complex.

– 1.32 lakh spectators will be able to enjoy the match in the stadium, the stadium has 11 pitches, unrivalled by any stadium in the world.

– It will be the largest sports enclave in the country to be built on 233 acres of land and will have world class sports facilities.

– Ahmedabad will be known as Sports City of India

– More than 600 schools in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad rural district will be connected to the sports enclave and children of schools that do not have their own playgrounds will be able to avail of sports facilities.

– Accommodation for 250 coaches and 3,000 children will  be available to make them able to train together.

– Prime Minister believes that youth cannot achieve things until they progress in sports, that’s why he started Khelo India.

  1. 36th PRAGATI Meeting

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24th February, 2021 chaired the 36th PRAGATI meeting.

Key points are:

– In the meeting, ten agenda items were taken up for review including eight projects, grievance relating to one scheme and one programme.

– Among the eight projects, three were from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, two from Ministry of Railways, one each from Ministry of Power, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Ministry of Home Affairs.

– These eight projects, with a cumulative cost of about ₹44,545 crore, pertained to 12 states viz., West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Mizoram, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Meghalaya.

– The Prime Minister expressed his concerns in delays being observed in execution of some of the projects, and directed the officials concerned that all pending issues should be resolved in a time-bound manner, and wherever possible, in Mission Mode.

– During the interaction, the Prime Minister reviewed the programme for elimination of single use plastic. Review of grievances related to Pradhan Mantri Gram SadakYojana was also taken up.

– In the previous 35 PRAGATI interactions, 290 projects having a total cost of about ₹13.60 lakh crore, along with 51 programmes / schemes and grievances pertaining to 17 different sectors have been reviewed.

  1. Indradhanush 3.0 launched

Why in news?

Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0 launched to expand immunization coverage across the country.

Key points are:

The focus of IMI 3.0 will be on children and pregnant women who missed their vaccine doses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Mission Indradhanush

To strengthen and re-energize the programme and achieve full immunization coverage for all children and pregnant women at a rapid pace, the Government of India launched “Mission indradhanush” in December 2014.

– The ultimate goal is to ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women.

– It provides vaccination against 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD) i.e. diphtheria, Whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, meningitis and pneumonia, Hemophilus influenza type B infections, Japanese encephalitis (JE), rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and measles-rubella (MR).

– However, Vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis and Haemophilus influenzae type B is being provided in selected districts of the country.

– To further intensify the immunization programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Intensified Mission (IMI) on October 8, 2017.

– With this, the Government of India aims to reach each and every child up to two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunization programme/UIP.

  1. UN Human Rights Council

Why in news?

In his address to the United Nations Human Rights Council, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said:

Terrorism continues to be one of the gravest threats to humankind and a crime against humanity, which violates the most fundamental human rights namely the right to life.

Human rights violations and gaps in the implementation of human rights should be addressed in a “fair and just manner” with objectivity, non-selectivity and transparency and with due respect with the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and national sovereignty.

Key points are:

India had last month presented an eight-point action plan to deal with the scourge of terrorism in which India asked the world to crack down on countries sheltering and harbouring proscribed terrorists. The action plan also includes cracking the whip on terror financing.

About UNHRC

UNHRC was reconstituted from its predecessor organisation, the UN Commission on Human Rights to help overcome the “credibility deficit” of the previous organisation. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

– The UNHRC passes non-binding resolutions on human rights issues through a periodic review of all 193 UN member states called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

– It oversees expert investigation of violations in specific countries (Special Procedures).

  1. 6 Years of UJALA and SLNP

Why in news?

The UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All) and SLNP (Street Lighting National Programme) completed six years of successful implementation. The two programmes revamped household and public lighting systems across the country.

Key points are:

– Both schemes have been implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power.

– These programmes have bagged global awards like the South Asia Procurement Innovation Award (SAPIA) 2017, Global Solid State Lighting (SSL) award of excellence for the transformational contribution to the LED sector, etc.

About Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA)

– UJALA is a zero-subsidy scheme launched by the Government in 2015. It is touted as the world’s largest domestic lighting project. Also known as the LED-based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP), it aims to promote the efficient usage of energy for all i.e., its consumption, savings and lighting.

– Every domestic household having a metered connection from their respective Electricity Distribution Company is eligible to get the LED bulbs under the Scheme.

– Under UJALA, EESL has distributed over 36.69 crore LED bulbs across India. This has resulted in estimated energy savings of 47.65 billion kWh per year with avoided peak demand of 9,540 MW and estimated GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction of 38.59 million tonnes CO2 per year.

– It has helped in the growth of domestic LED (Light-Emitting Diode) markets.

– It has helped to bring down the average household electricity bills by 15%.

About Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP)

– The SLNP, launched in 2015, is a government scheme to promote energy-efficiency in India.

– Under the programme, EESL replaces the conventional street lights with LEDs at its own costs, with no upfront investment by the municipalities, thereby making their adoption even more attractive.

– This scheme is expected to enable peak demand reduction of 500 MW, annual energy savings of 190 crore kWh, and reduction in 15 lakh tons of CO2.

– The SLNP has plans to bring investment of Rs. 8,000 crores by 2024 to cover the entire rural India.

– Over 1.14 crore smart LED streetlights have been installed till date, enabling an estimated energy savings of 7.67 billion kWh per year with an avoided Peak demand of 1,161 MW and an estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction of 5.29 million tons CO2 annually.

– With the help of the scheme, the municipalities were able to save 5,210 crores of Rupees in their electricity bills.

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. JNCASR Scientists develop a new molecule

Why in news?

Scientists have developed a small molecule that disrupts the mechanism through which neurons become dysfunctional in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Key points are:

– The molecule could be a potential drug candidate to halt or cure the leading cause of dementia (70-80%) worldwide.

– In the Alzheimer’s brain, abnormal levels of naturally forming protein clump together to form plaques that collect between neurons and disrupt cell function.

– This is caused by production and deposition of the amyloid peptide (Aβ) that accumulates  in the central nervous system.

– The multifactorial nature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) attributed to multifaceted amyloid toxicity has kept researchers from developing effective treatment.

– A team of scientists led by Professor T. Govindaraju from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, designed and synthesized a set of novel small molecules and identified a lead candidate which they found could reduce the toxicity of Amyloid Beta (Aβ) toxicity.

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– The detailed studies established the molecule called TGR63 as the lead candidate to rescue neuronal cells from amyloid toxicity. Remarkably, the molecule was also found to reduced amyloid burden in the cortex and hippocampus, or a complex part embedded deep into the temporal lobe, thereby reversing cognitive decline.

– This research has been published recently in the journal Advanced Therapeutics.

– Currently available treatments provide only temporary relief, and there are no approved drugs that directly act on the disease mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, there is an unmet need to develop drug candidates to halt or cure Alzheimer’s disease.

– Mice brain affected with Alzheimer’s disease when treated with TGR63 showed a significant reduction of amyloid deposits, validating its therapeutic efficacy.

– The mice also showed reduction of learning deficiency, memory impairment, and cognitive decline as revealed by distinct behavioural tests.

– These key attributes have validated the potential of TGR63 as a promising drug candidate for the treatment of AD.

– AD severely affects the patients, families, caregivers and hence is a major societal and economic burden globally.

– The novel drug candidate TGR63 developed by the JNCASR team has potential as a promising drug candidate for AD treatment.

  1. Kodaikanal Solar Observatory Digitized Data

Why in news?

Scientists have estimated how the Sun has rotated over a century from data extracted from old films and photographs that have been digitized.

Key points are:

– This estimation would help study magnetic field generated in the interior of the Sun, which causes sunspots and results in extreme situations like the historical mini-ice age on Earth (absence of sunspots). It could also help predict solar cycles and their variations in the future.

– The Sun rotates more quickly at its equator than at its poles. Over time, the Sun’s differential rotation rates cause its magnetic field to become twisted and tangled.

– The tangles in the magnetic field lines can produce strong localized magnetic fields. When the Sun’s magnetic field gets twisted, there are lots of sunspots.

– The sunspots which form at the surface with an 11-year periodicity are the only route to probe the solar dynamo or solar magnetism inside the Sun and hence measure the variation in solar rotation.

– Researchers led by Mr. Bibhuti Kumar Jha, a Ph.D. student from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous institute under Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India, along with the collaborators from Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Goettingen, Germany and Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, USA have studied the solar rotation by tracing sun spots from century-old digitalized films and photographs.

– The old films and photographs were taken at the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO) of Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), an autonomous institute of DST, and have now been digitised.

– The team compared the consistent digitized data with manual data of rotation taken earlier and said that they have been able to differentiate the behaviors of the bigger and smaller solar spots for the first time.

– Such digitized data and differentiation of bigger and smaller sun spots can improve understanding of solar magnetism and sun spots, paving the path towards predicting solar cycles in the future.

  1. PM-Kisan scheme

Why in news?

The PM-Kisan scheme, launched with an aim to ensure a life of dignity and  prosperity for  farmers has completed two years on 24 February, 2021.

Key points are:

– In a series of tweets the Prime Minister said,” On this day, 2 years ago the PM-Kisan scheme was launched with an aim to ensure a life of dignity as well as prosperity for our hardworking farmers, who work day and night to keep our nation fed. The tenacity and passion of our farmers is inspiring.

– Over the last 7 years, the Government of India has taken many initiatives for transforming agriculture. From better irrigation to more technology, more credit and markets to proper crop insurance, focus on soil health to eliminating middlemen, the efforts are all-encompassing .

  1. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)

Why in news?

First  Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) case of the year suspected in Muzaffarpur.

Key points are:

– Usually AES, locally called chamki bukhar, surfaces during summer in the flood-prone districts of north Bihar.

– AES cases were reported from five north Bihar districts in 2019. More than 150 children died. More than 600 children suffering from AES were admitted in the hospitals, including SKMCH and nearly 450 recovered.

– Acute encephalitis syndrome is a basket term used for referring to hospitals, children with clinical neurological manifestation that includes mental confusion, disorientation, convulsion, delirium, or coma.

– Meningitis caused by virus or bacteria, encephalitis (mostly Japanese encephalitis) caused by virus, encephalopathy, cerebral malaria, and scrub typhus caused by bacteria are collectively called acute encephalitis syndrome.

– The disease most commonly affects children and young adults and can lead to considerable morbidity and mortality.

Its symptoms are:

It is characterized as acute-onset of fever and a change in mental status (mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma) and/or new-onset of seizures in a person of any age at any time of the year.

  1. India – Maldives

Why in news?

Recently, India and the Maldives have signed a defence Line of Credit agreement worth USD 50 million.

Key points are:

– The agreement was signed during the visit by the External Affairs Minister of India to Maldives.

– Defence Line of Credit was signed pursuant to the request by the Government of Maldives in April 2013 for India’s support and cooperation in enhancing the capability of the Maldives Defence Forces in maritime surveillance, and subsequent requests in October 2015 and March 2016.

– It is seen as key to India’s and Maldives’ strategic interests, particularly given China’s increasing footprint in the Indian Ocean Region.

– A dockyard will be developed at the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) Naval Base with Indian assistance, a few miles northwest of Male, which will strengthen the Maldivian defence capabilities.

– The agreement is part of the defence action plan signed in 2016 by then Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom during a visit to India.

– Indicating deepening security cooperation, an agreement to develop, support and maintain a Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour at Sifavaru was also signed.

– India will also support development of other infrastructure needed for the harbour, support the development of communications resources and radar services, and provide training.

– A number of India-backed infrastructure projects including the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement Studies

– Noted progress on institutionalising linkages between the police organisations to support collaboration and cooperation in training management and exchange of trainers and trainees.

  1. IIT Council’s Recommendations

Why in news?

Recently, the Institute of Technology (IIT) Council has constituted four working groups to look at greater autonomy for the IITs.

Key points are:

– The decision is in line with the National Education Policy recommendation.

– The IITs are seeking autonomy on the lines of what was granted to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

– The IIT Council is headed by the Education Minister. It includes the directors of all IITs, and the chairs of each IIT’s Board of Governors (BoG).

Its objectives are:

– It is meant to advise on admission standards, duration of courses, degrees and other academic distinctions.

– It lays down policy regarding cadre, methods of recruitment and conditions of service of employees of all IITs.

Working Groups of the Council:

Group-1: Graded Autonomy, Empowered & accountable BoG and Director.

Group-2: Grooming distinguished academics for directorship of IITs.

Group-3: Reform and restructuring of Academic Senate.

Group-4: Innovative funding mechanisms.

– To constitute a task force to review use of technology at all IITs and also to accelerate deployment of digital tools, Such as Blockchain, AI (Artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), and Cloud Computing.

  1. Kerala government annuls agreement with U.S. firm

Why in news?

The Kerala government has invalidated a controversial agreement that the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) had reached with a U.S.-based firm, EMCC International, to build and operate a deep-sea trawling fleet to harvest the marine wealth off the State’s coast.

Key points are:

– Opposition called this deal as a bid to sell off the state’s marine wealth, endangering the livelihood of lakhs of fishermen in the state.

One of the stated objectives of the deal was deep sea fishing with state-of-the-art technology.

– The components of the project were building 400 deep sea fishing trawlers as per the design proposed by EMCC.

– The EMCC would train and deploy 1.60 lakh fishermen in deep sea fishing. Their skills would be upgraded, and the local fishing community would benefit in terms of direct and indirect employment opportunities.

– The Union Government had in 2017 withdrawn permission given for foreign trawlers for deep sea fishing in the exclusive economic zone of the country.

– The EEZ of the country extends up to 370 km from the coastline. Illegal fishing by foreign vessels in Indian waters is punishable under provisions of Maritime Zone of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels Act) 1981.

  1. Go Electric Campaign

Why in news?

The central government has launched the “Go Electric” Campaign to spread awareness on the benefits of e-mobility and EV Charging Infrastructure as well as electric cooking in India.

Key points are:

– To push the country towards 100% e-mobility and clean and safe e-cooking.

– To create awareness at PAN-India level and reduce the import dependence of the country.

– To move ahead on the path of a low carbon economy, thereby saving the country and the planet from the adverse impact of climate change.

– Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under the aegis of the Ministry of Power has been mandated to undertake an awareness drive for promoting public charging, e-mobility & its ecosystem.

– E-mobility moves away from existing carbon-emitting fossil fuels to using energy from electrical power sources (e.g. the National Grid) through external charging capability.

– Presently, India is using 94 million tonnes of oil and petroleum products for transportation only which is expected to double by 2030.

– For fossil fuels, India currently has an import bill of Rs. 8 lakh Crore.

– It encompasses the use of fully electric, conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid as well as hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.

– The government of India has undertaken multiple initiatives to promote manufacturing and adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in India. One such initiative is ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-India)’ Scheme.

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. Liberalization of geospatial policies will boost innovation in the sector

Why in news?

Secretary, Department of Science & Technology (DST) Prof Ashutosh Sharma highlighted that that liberalization of geospatial policies, announced a few days ago by the Government of India, will help to boost innovation in the sector and create a level playing field for the public as well as private sector, at the National Geospatial Awards Felicitation Ceremony recently.

Key points are:

– “We aim to utilize the power of geospatial technology to revive various sectors of the Indian economy,” he said, speaking via webinar at the online felicitation ceremony organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

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– The Guidelines for acquiring and producing Geo-Spatial Data and Geo-Spatial Data Services, including Maps, was recently released to facilitate access to such data across sectors.

– National Informatics Centre (NIC) received the Geospatial Excellence in Governance award for project Creation of Multi-Layer GIS for E-governance & Planning- Bharat Maps.

– At the award ceremony, Prof Sharma appealed to all stakeholders to share recommendations, insights and advice about various aspects of geospatial data and how to bring the entire ecosystem in place to give it full muscle for strengthening the policy.

  1. States/UTs roll out Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 3.0

Why in news?

Various States and UTs have started implementation of the Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0, a campaign aimed to reach those children and pregnant women who have been missed out or been left out of the Routine Immunisation Programme.

Key points are:

– This is aimed to accelerate the full immunization of children and pregnant women through a mission mode intervention. The first phase has been rolled out from 22nd Feb 2021 for fifteen days.

– The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan, launched the campaign on 19th February, 2021 and urged the States and district functionaries to reach each and every child and attain maximum Full Immunization Coverage.

– The campaign has exemplified ownership of the immunization program by top most leadership at the state level also.

– The campaign in Uttar Pradesh was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Shri Yogi Adityanath on 21st February 2021.

– The campaign was kicked off in Rajasthan with its Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma inaugurating the programme on 22nd February 2021.

– In Madhya Pradesh, Dr Prabhu Ram Choudhary, State Health Minister inaugurated the campaign in a function held at Bhopal on 22nd February 2021.

– The campaign is scheduled to have two rounds of immunization lasting 15 days (excluding Routine immunization and holidays).

– It is being conducted in pre-identified 250 districts/urban areas across 29 States/UTs in the country.

– As per the Guidelines released for IMI 3.0, the districts have been classified to reflect 313 low risk; 152 as medium risk; and 250 as high risk districts.

– As per data reported till 1700 hrs. on 22nd February, nearly 29,000 children and 5,000 pregnant women were vaccinated (data provisional).

About IMI 3.0 campaign

– IMI 3.0 campaign spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), will be implemented in mission-mode with support from key departments, as well as a strong network of partners and civil society organizations, youth groups, and community members.

–  It will be taken as an opportunity to catch up on any immunization gaps that might have emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. New material found can efficiently convert waste heat to electricity

Why in news?

Scientists have found a new Lead (Pb) free material which can efficiently convert waste heat to power our small home equipment and automobiles.

Key points are:

– Thermoelectric energy conversion allows generation of electrical voltage when one end of a material is heated while keeping the other side cold.

– Finding an efficient material to realize this scientific principle has been a daunting task for scientists.

– It entails fitting in three seemingly different properties into a single material– high electrical conductivity of metals, high thermoelectric sensitivity of semiconductors, and low thermal conductivity of glasses.

– Most efficient thermoelectric materials developed by scientists so far use Lead (Pb) as a major constituent element, restricting their use for mass-market applications.

– Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, an autonomous institution of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India led by Prof. Kanishka Biswas have now identified a lead-free material called Cadmium (Cd) doped Silver Antimony Telluride (AgSbTe2).

– This material can efficiently allow recovery of electricity from ‘waste heat’ marking a paradigm shift in the thermoelectric puzzle. They have reported this major breakthrough in the journal Science.

– Prof. Kanishka Biswas and his group doped (internally introduced) Silver Antimony Telluride with Cadmium (Cd) and used an advanced electron microscopy technique to visualize the resultant ordering of atoms in nanometer scale.

– The nanometer-scale atomic ordering scatters phonons that carries heat in a solid and enhances electrical transport by delocalizing the electronic state in the material.

  1. Government of India and World Bank Sign Project

Why in news?

The Government of India, Government of Nagaland and the World Bank on 23rd February, 2021 signed a $68 million project to enhance the governance of schools across Nagaland as well as to improve teaching practices and learning environments in select schools.

Key points are:

– The “Nagaland: Enhancing Classroom Teaching and Resources Project” will improve classroom instruction; create opportunities for the professional development of teachers; and build technology systems to provide students and teachers with more access to blended and online learning as well as allow better monitoring of policies and programs.

– Such an integrated approach will complement conventional delivery models and help mitigate the challenges posed by COVID-19. About 150,000 students and 20,000 teachers in the government education system in Nagaland will benefit from the statewide reforms in schools.

– C.S. Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India said that human resources development plays a key role in any development strategy and the Government of India has taken several concrete steps to transform the education landscape in India.

– He added that the education project in Nagaland will address the critical gaps faced by students and teachers and play an important role in the development of the state.

– The agreement was signed by Shri Mohapatra on behalf of the Government of India; Mr Shanavas C, Principal Director, Department of School Education on behalf of the Government of Nagaland; and Mr Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.

– As part of that strategy, approximately 15 out of Nagaland’s 44 higher secondary schools will be developed into school complexes that operationalize the envisioned learning environment during the project period.

– The $68 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a final maturity of 14.5 years including a grace period of 5 (five) years.

  1. 66th Convocation of IIT Kharagpur

Why in news?

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 66th Convocation of IIT Kharagpur on 23 February, 2021 through a video conference.

Key points are:

– Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Union Minister of State for Education Shri Sanjay Dhotre were present on the occasion.

– The Prime Minister said the need of the day is to work while anticipating the needs of the future, to make innovations for tomorrow.

– He urged the students to find solutions which can improve and save the lives of millions and can save the country’s resources.

– Narendra Modi asked the students to adopt the mantra of Self 3 to overcome their self doubts and obstacles in the future.

– He said Self 3 is Self-awareness, Self-confidence and Selflessness. He advised the students to recognize their potential and move forward, move ahead with full confidence, move ahead with selflessness.

– The Prime Minister emphasized the need for significant innovation for Industry 4.0. He lauded the efforts of IIT Kharagpur to transform academic research related to AI at industrial level, Internet of things and modern construction technology.

  1. Media Platform Bill

Why in news?

Australia has reached out to India among several countries, including Canada, France and the UK, in a move to stitch a global coalition against tech giants Google and Facebook amid a faceoff over compensation for sharing news content from media companies on their platforms.

Key points are:

– Australia’s proposed law, News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill 2020, mandates a bargaining code that aims to force Google and Facebook to compensate media companies for using their content.

– The Bill is expected to set a precedent in regulating social media across geographies.

– Payment to News Outlets: Big tech and social media giants like Facebook and Google will have to pay local news outlets for using their content.

– Big Tech firms will have to negotiate how much they pay local publishers and broadcasters for content that appears on their platforms.

– Provision of Arbitration and Fine: An arbiter is mandated to adjudicate if no agreement is reached and there are also provisions of heavy fines if agreements are not done.

  1. Influenza A(H5N8) virus

Why in news?

Russia says it detected first case of H5N8 avian flu in humans, alerts WHO.

Key points are:

– There are different subtypes of avian influenza viruses. While the highly contagious strain H5N8 is lethal for birds it has never before been reported to have spread to humans.

About Influenza A(H5N8) virus

– According to Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, H5N8 avian influenza is a disease of birds, caused by Type “A” influenza viruses, which can affect several species of domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, ducks, as well as pet birds, wild migratory birds and water fowl.

– There are no known cases of H5N8 in human beings.

– Risk to general public is very low. There is also no evidence that consumption of poultry meat or eggs could transmit the virus to humans.

– But necessary precautions are required while handling sick/dead birds and contaminated material during control and containment operations.

– It is considered safe to eat properly cooked poultry products.

– Culling is usually undertaken to control the infection when it is detected in animals.

– Besides culling, safe disposal of all such culled animals and animal products is also important.

– The authorities also need to strictly enforce decontamination of infected premises and undertake quarantine of contaminated vehicles and personnel.

  1. Conclusive Land Titling

Why in news?

Recently, as many States have failed to send in their feedback on a Model Bill on Conclusive Land Titling , the Centre has warned that their agreement would be presumed. The Bill was prepared by the NITI Aayog.

Key points are:

– Land Titling is the generic term used to describe the programs implemented by the government to enable individuals and government to efficiently trade in rights in land and property.

– Recently, the Supreme Court held that a citizen’s right to own private property is a human right.

– India currently follows a system of presumptive land titling. It means that land records are maintained, with information on possession, which is determined through details of past transactions.

– It is established on the basis of current possession. Registration of land is actually a registration of transactions, such as sale deeds, records of inheritance, mortgage and lease.

  1. Carbon Watch

Why in news?

Chandigarh became the first state or Union Territory in India to launch Carbon Watch.

Key points are:

– Carbon Watch is a mobile application to assess the carbon footprint of an individual

– Carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases-especially carbon dioxide-released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.

How the app works?

– As a person downloads the application, they will need to fill details in four parts- Water, Energy, Waste Generation and Transport (Vehicular movement). In each category, they will be required to inform about their respective consumptions and waste generations.

– With the mentioned information, the mobile application will automatically calculate the carbon footprint of the individual.

– The application will also provide information such as the national and world average of the emission, and the individual’s level of emission generation.

– The mobile application will suggest methods to reduce the carbon footprints. The application will suggest ways as per the information furnished by the individuals.

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. International Mother Language Day

Why in news?

Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu on 21 February, 2021 inaugurated the Webinar on the occasion of ‘International Mother Language Day’.

Key points are:

– The Webinar on ‘Fostering Multilingualism for Inclusion in Education and Society’ is being organised jointly by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and IGNCA.

– The Vice President also inaugurated the International Virtual Calligraphy Exhibition. Union Minister for Education, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’’; Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture Shri Prahlad Singh Patel; Minister of State for Education Shri Sanjay Dhotre and Member Secretary, IGNCA, Dr. Sachidanand Joshi were also present through the virtual medium.

– All the speakers spoke in length about the importance of the Mother tongue and the need for its preservation which will be a treasure for our future generations.

– The Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu also called for making mother tongue the primary medium of instruction, at least until Grade 5.

– He suggested that educating a child in a language that is not spoken at home can be a big impediment to learning especially at the primary stage.

– Referring to multiple studies, Shri Naidu said that teaching through the mother tongue in the initial stages of education can boost a child’s self-esteem and enhance his or her creativity.

– Calling the New Education Policy a visionary and progressive document, he urged for implementing the Policy in letter and spirit.

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– Addressing the participants Shri Dhotre said that consequent to the declaration of 21st February as the International Mother Language Day, (Matribhasha Diwas) UNESCO in 1999, this day is being celebrated every year since 2015 in a grand manner by involving all the higher educational institutions/schools across the country to organize various activities like Debating, Singing, Essay Writing and Painting competitions, Music and Dramatic performances, Exhibitions etc

– Shri Dhotre highlighted that the purpose of the celebrations is to promote the preservation and protection of all languages spoken by the people globally and also to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism of the languages.

– He further said that the Government has adopted a proactive approach to promote all Indian languages and strengthen the mother tongue in the Indian education system.

  1. “Hunar Haat”

Why in news?

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 21 February, 2021 formally inaugurated the 26th “Hunar Haat” of indigenous artisans and craftsmen from across the country at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.

Key points are:

– Lok Sabha MP Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour. Secretary, Union Minority Affairs Ministry, Shri P. K. Das, other senior officials and dignitaries were also present on the occasion.

– On the occasion, Rajnath Singh Ji said that “Every region of the country has an amazing talent and brilliance. The artisans of “Hunar Haat” are not only “Ustad” of art and craft; they are also “Ustad” of destiny.

– Hunar Haat” has been playing an important role in strengthening the country’s economy. It brings together indigenous artisans and craftsmen from across the country.

– It is a beautiful exhibition of our traditional art and craft and more importantly our “cultural mosaic”. “Hunar Haat” is doing branding of traditional legacy of artisans, craftsmen and is playing important role towards “Aatmnirbhar Bharat”.

– The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs is organising the 26th “Hunar Haat” on the theme of “Vocal for Local” from 20th February to 01st March 2021.

– More than 600 artisans and craftsmen from more than 31 States and UTs are participating in the “Hunar Haat” in New Delhi. Artisans and craftsmen from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu-Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal etc are participating in “Hunar Haat”.

– Exquisite indigenous handmade products such as Applique work, dry flowers, jute-cane, brass products, wooden and clay toys, Ajrakh Block Print, Blue Art Pottery, Pashmina Shawl, Khadi products, Banarsi Silk, Wooden Furniture, Chikankari Embroidery, Chanderi Silk, Lac bangles, Rajasthani jewellery, Phulkari, Oil Painting, Leather products, Khurja pottery, Sandalwood artefacts from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jute products from West Bengal etc are available for sale and display at “Hunar Haat”.

  1. Railway Projects in West Bengal

Why in news?

The Union Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry and Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal on 21 February, 2021 dedicated to the Nation various infrastructure development and passenger amenity related works in North Bengal area through video conferencing in presence of other dignitaries at different locations.

Key points are:

– Ms. Debasree Chaudhuri, Hon’ble Minister of State of Women & Child Development, Govt. of India was also present along with other dignitaries at various locations.

– Speaking on the occasion, Shri Piyush Goyal said, “Railways is serving the nation in an extraordinary way. Railways has taken up on itself to contribute big time to the mission of Sonar Bangla. Railways would be fully electrified in 3 years in West Bengal and all on going projects will be completed at the earliest.”

– 126 Route Kilometer newly electrified section from New Jalpaiguri to New Coochbehar dedicated today is part of the Railway electrification work which is going on to achieve 100% electrification of Indian Railways’ network.

– This section is vital for train movement towards northeastern states. With electrification making steady progress in this area more trains carrying freights and passengers can be operated in an environment friendly manner with less carbon – emission.

– This project costing about Rs. 287 Crs will lead to huge savings in consumption of fossil fuels. It may be mentioned here that railway electrification of the whole of N.F. Railway was sanctioned in the budget of 2018 and it is targeted to be completed by December, 2023.

– The Haldibari station bordering Bangladesh has been constructed considering the need of future economic development of this area. The new station has 3 passenger platforms with 26 coach capacity and 2 goods line.

– The entire construction of the new station building at Haldibari along with other works like construction of new circulating area, running rooms, signaling system was constructed at a cost of about Rs. 82.72 crs.

– Electronic Interlocking at Haldibari and Jalpaiguri stations have also been provided to enhance safety of train operations in this section.

– Gangarampur is an important town in the South Dinajpur district of West Bengal. The station here has been converted to a crossing station with provision of High level platform and modern Electronic Interlocking at a cost of about Rs. 09.09 crs, which fulfilled a long standing demand of the local populace.

– With an aim to provide better amenities and convenience to passenger, the Alipurduar Jn station has been re-developed to meet the operational requirement. The New Station building with improved aesthetics in pursuant to local culture was built at a cost of Rs. 8.11 Cr.

– Indian Railway has been providing new lifts and escalators in all important stations for the benefit of passengers.

– Construction of two new lifts for use of passenger at the Alipurduar Jn station, built at a cost of about Rs. 80.8 lacs will prove to be very helpful for passengers especially Senior citizen and Divyangs to move from platform – 1, 2 & 3 to other platforms.

– Madarihat station falling in the Dooars section of North Bengal is an important tourist place.

– The provision of a new Foot Over Bridge in between PF No. 1 & 2 which has been provided at a cost of Rs 1.13 Crores will provide safe passage to passengers for boarding / de-boarding trains stopping at PF 2 of the station.

– Indian Railway is installing high mast flags in all important stations throughout the country. One such high must flag installed at the New Coochbehar station has also been dedicated to the Nation.

  1. Second phase of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM)

Why in news?

The second phase of the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav will be inaugurated by the Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (Independent Charge) Shri Prahlad Singh Patel on 22nd Februrary 2021 at Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling,West Bengal.

Key points are:

– The festival is being held from 22nd February to 24th February. The Governor of West Bengal, Shri Jagdeep  Dhankhar will grace the closing ceremony on 24th February 2021.

– The Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav is organised to promote the spirit of Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat.

– The 3-day event in Darjeeling will begin with a choreographic presentation by Odissi Vision and Movement Centre, followed by recitals by Dona Ganguly (Odissi), Michael (Saxophone), Shayne Hyrapiet (Band).

– On second day, there will be a Rabindra Sangeet recital by Sounak Chattopadhyay, a creative dance recital by Saphire Dance troupe, the North eastern band of Daniel Engti and Kamran and the Boyz Band.

-Last day will begin with Bail songs by Anuttam Baul, followed by Kathak Ballet by Sanskriti Sreyaskar and a dance drama.

– On all days local artistes will be given an opportunity to perform on the RSM stage.There will be 20 crafts stalls from all over the country showcasing genuine hand-crafted products.

– Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM), the flagship festival of this Ministry organized since 2015 with the active participation of Seven Zonal Culture Centres has been playing a pivotal role to take the vibrant culture of India out to the masses instead of confining to auditoria and galleries.

– It has been instrumental in showcasing, folk and tribal art, dance, music, cuisines & culture of one state in other states reinforcing the cherished goal of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” and at the same time providing an effective platform to the artists and artisans to support their livelihood.

– Ten editions of RSM have been held till date since November, 2015 in various states and cities such as Delhi, Varanasi, Bengaluru, Tawang, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tehri and Madhya Pradesh.

– Renowned artists including local artists will be a part of this major festival. The RashtriyaSanskriti Mahotsav-2021 will cover a profusion of folk-art forms and it would offer the chance to experience the best in established and emerging virtuosity.

– The RSM will reconnect the people, especially the youth, with their indigenous culture, its multi-faceted nature, magnificence, opulence and historical importance in the context of India as a Nation over the millennia.

– This RSM which is being organized in West Bengal will enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.

  1. One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme

Why in news?

The review of One Rank One Pension (OROP) has been pending since June 2020. The issue was discussed during the recent parliamentary panel meet.

Key points are:

– There are certain ‘loopholes’ which need to be fixed in the scheme. A committee has been constituted to look into the issue by the Defence Ministry to work out the modalities of the revision but no announcement has been made on when the revision would be undertaken.

– OROP implies uniform pension to personal based on rank and length of service, irrespective of the date of retirement.

– The Government had implemented the long pending demand of veterans in November 2015 and as per the notification, it is to be revised every five years.

– Armed Forces Personnel who had retired till 30th june 2014 are covered under it.

– The implementation of the scheme was based on recommendation of the Koshiyari committee.

  1. Transatlantic Alliance

Why in news?

The USA President Joe Biden in his first address to the annual Munich Security Conference declared that the ‘transatlantic alliance is back’ and stressed the need to defend democracy around the world.

Key points are:

– The USA President intended to improve the strained relationship between the USA and other European allies.

– The Munich Security Conference is an annual conference on international security policy that has taken place in Munich, Bavaria (Germany) since 1963.

– The Transatlantic Alliance has been the cornerstone of the post-World War II world order. It is a real-world expression of West – of a sense that both sides of Atlantic are in it together.

– It is the foundation on which the collective security and shared prosperity of the USA and Europe are built. However, this historic, long-established friendship between the world’s two largest economies has become strained in recent years.

About Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)

It is an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union (EU).

– The TTIP negotiations were launched in 2013 and ended without conclusion at the end of 2016.

– It will be a cutting edge agreement aimed at providing greater compatibility and transparency in trade and investment regulation, while maintaining high levels of health, safety, and environmental protection.

  1. Quad Meeting

Why in news?

– Recently, India joined Australia, Japan and the United States for a ministerial meeting under the Quadrilateral grouping (Quad) and discussed issues across Indo-Pacific and the military takeover in Myanmar.

Key points are:

– Discussed contemporary challenges, especially the impact of Covid-19 and agreed to enhance access to affordable vaccines, medicines and medical equipment.

– Discussed countering disinformation, counter-terrorism, maritime security, and the “priority of strengthening democratic resilience in the broader region”.

– Emphasised their commitment to upholding a rules-based international order, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas and peaceful resolution of disputes.

– Reiterated their “common vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, with clear support for ASEAN cohesion and centrality”, and noted that the Indo-Pacific concept had “gathered growing international support, including in Europe”.

– Discussed climate change and cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and supply chain resilience.

– Agreed on holding ministerial meetings of the Quad at least once a year and meetings at senior and working levels on a regular basis to bolster cooperation on advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

– The meeting, held in the backdrop of the ongoing withdrawal of Chinese forces from positions along the Line of Actual Control, underlines that India’s interest in the Quad is not tactical but profoundly strategic.

– For India, the Quad is also about addressing the growing power imbalance with China that has manifold consequences for India’s security and prosperity as well its regional and international standing.

About Quad

– Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is an informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.

– The idea of Quad was first mooted by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, apparently due to Chinese pressure.

– In December 2012, Shinzo Abe again floated the concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” involving Australia, India, Japan and the USA to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.

– In November 2017, India, the USA, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).

– In 2020, all four Quad Countries – Japan, India, Australia and the USA took part in the Malabar exercise.

– Malabar exercise is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the USA which is held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

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. Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahostav

Why in news?

The three day Cultural Festival of the 11thRashtriya Sanskriti Mahostav in Rajbari of Cooch Behar, West bengal concluded on 16 February, 2021 with programs performed by Dohar, a popular Bengali band, other renowned artists and local troupes .

Key points are:

– The Mahostav organised for the Rajbari, the magnificent palace grounds witnessed performances by renowned artists and musicians; folk artists highlighting the rich cultural diversity.

– A big draw was singer and music composer Shri Kailash Kher, Kathak dancer Souvik Chakroborty while tabla mastero, Bikram Ghosh performed at the inauguration.

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– Icons from music to classical performers performed during the last three days giving the local people glimpses of the heritage and also be a platform to encourage and preserve the local arts. A handicraft Mela was also held on the occasion.

– The festival held in West Bengal was inaugurated by the Governor Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar in the presence of the Minister of State (I/C) Culture, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel on 14th February.

– The second leg of the program will now be held in Darjeeling from 22nd to 24th February.

– The RSM which is being organized in the State will enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.

About Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahostav (RSM)

– RSM, the flagship festival of this Ministry of Culture has been organized since 2015 with the active participation of Seven Zonal Culture Centres has been playing a pivotal role to take the vibrant culture of India out to the masses instead of confining to auditoria and galleries.

– It has been instrumental in showcasing, folk and tribal art, dance, music, cuisines & culture of one state in other states reinforcing the cherished goal of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” and at the same time providing an effective platform to the artists and artisans to support their livelihood.

– Ten editions of RSM have been held till date since November, 2015 in various states and cities such as Delhi, Varanasi, Bengaluru, Tawang, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tehri and Madhya Pradesh.

– Organized by the Ministry of culture and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre Kolkata it has brought all the seven zonal cultural centres together to bring culture to the masses and also reinforce the goal of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.

  1. Comprehensive Economic cooperation and Partnership Agreement

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has approved signing of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius.

Key points are:

– The India-Mauritius CECPA will be the first trade Agreement to be signed by India with a country in Africa.

– The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas.

Impact or benefits:

– CECPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.

– The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers 310 export items for India, including food stuff and beverages (80 lines), agricultural products (25 lines), textile and textile articles (27 lines), base metals and articles thereof (32 lines), electricals and electronic item (13 lines), plastics and chemicals (20 lines), wood and articles thereof (15 lines), and others.

– Mauritius will benefit from preferential market access into India for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors such as professional services, computer related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services.

–  India has offered around 95 sub-sectors from the 11 broad services sectors, including professional services, R&D, other business services, telecommunication, financial, distribution, higher education, environmental, health, tourism and travel related services, recreational services and transport services.

– Both sides have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the Signing of the Agreement.

The Agreement will be signed by the concerned from both the countries on a mutually convenient date and will come into force from 1st date of the following month.

  1. Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products with a budgetary outlay of Rs. 12,195 crore.

Key points are:

– The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme intends to promote manufacture of Telecom and Networking Products in India and proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract investments in the target segments of telecom and networking products in order to encourage Make in India.

–  The scheme will also encourage exports of telecom and networking  products ‘Made in India’.

– Support under the Scheme will be provided to companies/entities engaged in manufacturing of specified telecom and networking products in India.

–  Eligibility will be further subject to achievement of a minimum threshold of cumulative incremental investment over a period of four years and incremental sales of manufactured goods net of taxes (as distinct from traded goods) over the Base Year 2019-2020.

– The cumulative investment can be made at one go, subject to annual cumulative threshold as prescribed for four years being met.

– Globally Telecom and Networking Products exports represent an US$100 billion market opportunity, which can be exploited by India.

– With support under the scheme, India will augment capacities by attracting large investments from global players and at the same time encourage promising domestic champion companies to seize the emerging opportunities and become big players in the export market.

– With this scheme, India will be well positioned as a global hub for manufacturing of Telecom and Networking Products. Incremental production around Rs. 2 Lakh crore is expected to be achieved over 5 years. India will improve its competitiveness in manufacturing with increased value addition.

– It is expected that scheme will bring more than Rs. 3,000 crore investment and generate huge direct and indirect employments.

  1. NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum

Why in news?

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi addressed the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum (NTLF) on 17 February, 2021 through video conferencing.

Key points are:

– The Prime Minister lauded the IT industry for their resilience during the Corona period. “When the chips were down, your code kept things running” said the Prime Minister. He noted 2 percent growth in the sector and addition of 4 billion dollars in revenue amidst the apprehensions of de-growth.

– The Prime Minister noted that today’s India is eager for progress and the Government understand this feeling. He said aspirations of 130 crore Indians inspire us to move forward with rapid speed. He emphasized that expectations related to the new India are there from the private sector also as they are from the government.

– The Prime Minister listed the steps taken in recent times such as National Communication Policy, policy to make India Global Software Product Hub and Other Service Provider” (OSP) guidelines which were issued during Corona period.

–  He noted that inclusion of Information services into 12 champion service sectors has started bearing fruit. Recent liberalization of maps and geo-spatial data will strengthen the tech start up ecosystem and the wider mission of Aatmnirbhar Bharat. .

– The Prime Minister emphasized that young entrepreneurs should have the freedom to leverage the new opportunities.

– The Government has full faith in the start up and innovators, said the Prime Minister.  Steps like self-certification, use of IT solutions in Governance, data democratization through Digital India have taken the process forward.

  1. Gangwar to launch Software Applications

Why in news?

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labour & Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar will launch Software Applications and release instruction manuals with questionnaire for five All India Surveys being conducted by Labour Bureau in Chandigarh on 18 February, 2021.

– Secretary L&E Apurva Chandra and Senior Labour & Employment Advisor and Director General, Labour Bureau Shri DPS Negi will be present on the occasion.

Key points are:

These five surveys being undertaken by Labour Bureau are

– All India Survey on Migrant workers,

– All India survey on Domestic Workers,

– All India survey on employment generated by Professionals,

– All India survey on employment generated in Transport Sector and

– All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey.

– The objective of the All India Survey on Domestic Workers would be to estimate the proportion of DW in the workforce by major states and all-India and percentage distribution of these DWs / households that employ them by important socio-demographic key characteristics.

– The objectives of the survey on Migrant Workers are to estimate the number of migrant workers in India and also to collect information on their living conditions, working conditions and other socio-economic conditions.

– The objectives  of all-India Survey on Employment Generated by Professionals are essentially two-fold (i)To estimate the total number of active professionals in the country & (ii) To capture the employment generated by these professionals.

– Objective of the survey on employment generated in Transport Sector is to assess the employment generated in Transport Sector in India

– The main objective of the All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey is to measure relative change in employment situation over successive quarters in sizeable segment of Non-Farm economy covering 8 important sectors of the Indian economy.

– The surveys are significant in terms of the path-breaking initiative being taken by Bureau in terms of use of Information Technology (IT) in the entire chain of data collection to report generation. The results of these surveys will be declared within 7-8 months including 6 months of field work.

– Labour Bureau, an attached office of Ministry of Labour& Employment, has been at the forefront in fulfilling the data needs of various stakeholders in the field of labour and employment since 1920.

  1. Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPPQ)

Why in news?

The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare performs regulatory, monitoring, surveillance and Human Resource Development functions through a scheme “Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPPQ)”.

Key points are:

– The aim of minimizing loss to quality and yield of agricultural crops from the ravages of insect pests, diseases, weeds, nematodes, rodents etc. and to shield our bio-security from the incursion and spread of alien species.

– Revalidation of more than 1200 pack houses, rice mills, processing units, treatment facilities, fumigation agencies, post entry quarantine facilities etc to facilitate agri export has been done.

– To promote Integrated Pest Management and judicious use of Pesticides, 14 crop specific and pest specific Package of Practices have been issued to the States during the lockdown period.

– To promote Make in India, 6788 Certificates of Registration (CR) have been issued to indigenous manufacturers of pesticides and 1011 CRs issued for export of pesticides.

– The Destructive Insect and Pests Act, 1914 and the Insecticides Act, 1968 provide the legal framework for the regulatory function.

– During 2020-21, India became the first country in the world to control locusts by using drones after finalizing protocols and Standard Operating Procedures.

– The largest locust control operation in Indian history has been conducted by the Central Government in collaboration with the States.

– Locust attack was controlled in more than 5.70 lakh hectare area of ​​10 States.

– Control capabilities of Locust Circle Offices (LCOs) have been strengthened by deploying helicopters for aerial spraying of pesticides for locust control. Till now control operations against locusts were carried out in an area of 2,87,986 hectares by LCOs and 2,83,268 hectares by State Governments.

– Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare relaxed the conditions for Import of Onions into India during 2020 in order to stabilize the price and availability of Onion in the local market.

– Market access was obtained for carrot seeds from Iran, wheat flour, basmati rice and pomegranate seeds from Uzbekistan, pomegranate from Australia, mango, basmati rice and sesame seeds from Argentina and peanuts from Peru during 2020-21.

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. E-Chhawani portal & mobile app

Why in news?

Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh launched E-Chhawani portal and mobile app in New Delhi on 16 February, 2021.

Key points are:

– The portal has been created to provide online civic services to over 20 lakh residents of 62 Cantonment Boards across the country.

Through the portal, the residents of cantonment areas will be able to avail basic services like renewal of leases, application for birth & death certificates, water & sewerage connections, trade licences, mobile toilet locators and payment of different types of taxes and fees, with just a click of a button.

– The portal, jointly developed by eGov Foundation, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE) and National Informatics Centre (NIC), provides a platform to the residents to avail these services from the comfort of their home.

– The E-Chhawani portal is an innovative effort to transform the functioning of Cantonment Boards, in line with the vision of ‘New India’.

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– The portal will ensure effectiveness and transparency of the services distribution system of the Cantonment Boards and provide time-bound solutions to the residents.

  1. Maharaja Suheldev Memorial and development work of Chittaura Lake

Why in news?

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Maharaja Suheldev Memorial and development work of Chittaura Lake at Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh via video conference on 16 February, 2021. The Prime Minister also inaugurated the medical College building named after Maharaja Suheldev. Governor and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh were present on the occasion.

Key points are:

– The Prime Minister said history of India is not only the history written by colonial powers or those with colonial mindset. Indian History is what has been nurtured by the common people in their folklore and taken forward by the generations.

–  He lamented the fact that the people who sacrificed their all for India and Indianness have not been given their due importance.

– The Prime Minister cited examples of celebrating the contribution of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from Red Fort to Andaman Nicobar, Sardar Patel in Statue of Unity and Baba Saheb Ambedkar through Panch Teerth.

– The Prime Minister said that Maharaja Suheldev’s contribution to protect Indianness was similarly ignored.

– Maharaja Suheldev has been kept alive in the hearts of people by the folklore of Awadh, Tarai and Poorvanchal despite being ignored by the textbooks.

– The Prime Minister expressed the hope that the memorial for Maharaja Suheldev, will inspire the generations to come and said that with establishment of the medical college and expansion of the health facilities, will make life for people in this aspirational district and nearby areas better.

  1. Justice (Retd.) M. Rama Jois

Why in news?

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the demise of Justice (Retd.) M. Rama Jois.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, “Justice(Retd.) M. Rama Jois was a towering intellectual and jurist. He was admired for his rich intellect and contributions towards making India’s democratic fabric stronger. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and admirers in this sad hour. Om Shanti.”

  1. Key projects of oil & gas sector in Tamil Nadu

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation and lay the foundation of key projects of the oil & gas sector in Tamil Nadu on 17th February 2021 via video conferencing.

Key points are:

– Prime Minister will dedicate to the nation the Ramanathapuram – Thoothukudi natural gas pipeline and Gasoline Desulphurisation Unit at Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited, Manali.

– He will also lay the foundation stone of Cauvery Basin Refinery at Nagapattinam.

– These projects will result in substantial socio-economic benefits and will boost the country’s march towards Urja Aatmanirbharta. Governor and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas will also be present on the occasion.

About the Projects

The Ramanathapuram – Thoothukudi section (143 km) of the Ennore- Thiruvallur- Bengaluru- Puducherry- Nagapattinam- Madurai- Tuticorin Natural Gas Pipeline has been laid at the cost of about Rs. 700 crores.

– It will help utilise gas from ONGC Gas fields and deliver natural gas as feedstock to industries and other commercial customers.

– The Gasoline Desulphurisation Unit at Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), Manali has been constructed at the cost of about Rs. 500 crore. It will produce low sulphur (less than 8 ppm) environment-friendly gasoline, help reduce emission and contribute towards a cleaner environment.

– The Cauvery Basin Refinery to be set up at Nagapattinam will have a capacity of 9 million metric tonnes per annum. It will be set up through a Joint Venture of IOCL and CPCL at an estimated project cost of Rs. 31,500 crore.

– It will produce Motor Spirit and Diesel meeting BS-VI specifications, and Polypropylene as a value-added product.

  1. Pey Jal Survekshan under Jal Jeevan Mission

Why in news?

A Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan under Jal Jeevan Mission- Urban has been launched by Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA on 15 February, 2021.

Key points are:

– Providing details of the Pilot, Shri Mishra informed that Pey Jal Survekshan will be conducted in cities to ascertain equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies with respect to quantity and quality of water through a challenge process.

– “As the first step, Ministry has decided to launch a pilot on Pey Jal Survekshan in 10 cities namely Agra, Badlapur, Bhubaneswar, Churu, Kochi, Madurai, Patiala, Rohtak, Surat and Tumkur. Based on the learnings of the pilot, this survekshan will be extended to all the AMRUT cities”, he further informed.

– Data on drinking water, waste water management, non-revenue water and condition of 3 water bodies in the city will be collected through face-to-face interviews with citizens and municipal officials as per the approved questionnaire, on-call interviews, water sample collection and laboratory testing, and field survey for non-revenue water.

– Mission will be monitored through a technology-based platform on which beneficiary response will be monitored along with progress and output-outcome.

– Funding from Government for projects will be in three tranches of 20:40:40. Third instalment will be released based on functional outcomes achieved and credible exclusion will be exercised while funding.

About Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) (JJM (U))

– It is designed to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all 4,378 statutory towns in accordance with SDG Goal- 6.

– Also, sewerage/septage management in 500 AMRUT cities with the objective of making them water secure are the major focus areas under JJM (U).

– Estimated gap in urban household tap connections is 2.68 crore and estimated gap in sewer connections/septage in 500 AMRUT cities is 2.64 crore, which is proposed to be covered in JJM (U).

– Rejuvenation of water bodies to augment sustainable fresh water supply and creating green spaces and sponge cities to reduce floods and enhance amenity value through an Urban Aquifer Management plan are other focus areas.

– JJM (U) will promote circular economy of water through development of city water balance plan for each city focusing on recycle/reuse of treated sewage, rejuvenation of water bodies and water conservation. 20% of water demand to be met by reused water with development of institutional mechanism.

– A Technology Sub-Mission for water is proposed to leverage latest global technologies in the field of water. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign is proposed to spread awareness among masses about conservation of water.

– Mission also has a reform agenda, under which City Water Potability Index, reduction in non-revenue water, municipal finance reforms, rain water harvesting, recycle water to meet at least 20% total water demand by 2025 and rejuvenating three water bodies per ULB are the key proposed reforms.

– The total outlay proposed for JJM (U) is ₹2,87,000 crore which includes ₹10,000 crore for continuing financial support to AMRUT Mission. In order to promote Public Private Partnership, it has been mandated for cities having million plus population to take up PPP projects worth minimum of 10 percent of their total project fund allocation.

– For North East and Hill States, central funding for projects will be 90%. For Union Territories, central funding will be 100%. For cities will less than 1 lakh population, central funding will be 50%; for cities with 1 lakh to 10 lakh population, central funding will be one third; and for cities with million plus population, central funding will be 25%.

  1. World Pulses Day

Why in news?

February 10 is a designated global event to recognize and emphasize the importance of pulses and legumes as a global food.

Key points are:

– The UN General Assembly adopted 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP). World Pulses Day 2021 Theme is #LovePulses.

– India is the biggest producer and consumer of pulses in the world and it has almost achieved self-sufficiency in pulses.

– India accounted for 62% of world’s total pulses production in 2019-20.

– In the last five-six years, India has increased pulses production from 140 lakh tonnes to more than 240 lakh tonnes.

Background

Burkina Faso (a landlocked country in West Africa) proposed the observance of World Pulses Day. In 2019, the General Assembly announced February 10 as the World Pulses Day.

  1. Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme

Why in news?

The scheme is being implemented in 32 States and UTs.

Key points are:

– Launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare on December 5, 2015.

– Under the scheme, village level Soil Testing Labs will be set up by youth having education in agriculture, Women Self Help Groups, FPOs etc.

– The scheme also focuses on enabling employment generation after appropriate skill development.

About Soil Health Card (SHC)

– SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.

– Soil Health Card provides two sets of fertilizer recommendations for six crops including recommendations of organic manures.

– It will contain the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely: pH, Electrical Conductivity (EC), Organic Carbon (OC), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Sulphur (S), Zinc (Zn), Boron (B), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu) of farm holdings.

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  1. ‘Sub-Mission on Seeds & Planting Materials’

Why in news?

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare is implementing farmer’s welfare scheme ‘Sub-Mission on Seeds & Planting Materials’.

Key points are:

– The aim is to produce and supply quality seeds to farmers to enhance production and productivity in the country through various components namely Seed Village Programme, Establishment of Seed Processing- cum- Seed Storage Godowns at Gram Panchyat Level, National Seed Reserve, Boosting Seed Production in Private Sector and Strengthening of Quality Control Infrastructure Facilities.

Some of the major achievements under the scheme from 2014-15 to 2020-21 are as under:

– Under Seed Village Programme, 4.29 lakh numbers of Seed Villages have been created  wherein 38.01 lakh qtls. of foundation/certified seeds were distributed at concessional rates to 170.86 lakh farmers.

– To encourage farmers to take up Seed production of Pulses, Oilseeds, Fodder and Green Manure crops locally and make available required certified seeds at village itself, 1.05 lakh qtls. of foundation /certified seeds have been distributed at 75% subsidised rates  to 2.61 lakh farmers.

– Financial support provided to the States to establish 517 no. of Seed Processing-cum-storage godown Units each of 500 Mt. capacity at Gram Panchayat level, for creating 25.85 LQ more capacity each for Seed Processing and for Seed storage, to make available required crop variety seeds locally to farmers to make them self-sufficient.

– Financial assistance provided for movement of 10.37 lakh qtls. of seeds for  making timely availability at affordable price of certified/quality seeds to the farmers of North-Eastern States, UT of J&K, Laddakh, H.P., Uttrakhand and hilly/remote areas of West Bengal.

– Under National Seed Reserve, 17.01 lakh qtls seeds of short and medium crop varieties kept to meet the requirement of farmers for re-sowing during natural calamities and unforeseen conditions i.e. drought, cyclone and flood etc.

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– Subsequent to flood damaging paddy crop in Kerala in August, 2018, 3900 MT seeds kept under National Seed Reserve made available to the farmers for re-sowing, so that farmers of the State  didn’t face seed scarcity.

– In order to alleviate malnutrition in the country, 71 bio-fortified varieties (nutritionally enriched with protein, Iron, Zinc, amino acids, Pro vitamin-A & vitamin-C etc.,) of different crops (rice, wheat, maize, pearl millet, lentil, mustard, soybean, cauliflower, sweet potato and pomegranate etc.) developed.

– The breeder seeds of bio-fortified varieties have been allotted to the States for further multiplication for enhancing availability of seeds to the farmers in the country.

– 3436 registration certificates for plant varieties issued by PPVFR Authority for intellectual proprietary rights purpose. These include under Farmers’ Variety, the varieties which are traditionally cultivated and evolved by the farmers in their fields, and the wild relative or landrace of a variety about which the farmers possess common knowledge.

  1. PM Modi lays foundation stone and inaugurates various projects in Kochi, Kerala

Why in news?

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi inaugurated and laid foundation stone of various projects in Kochi Kerala on 14 February, 2021.

Key points are:

– Governor of Kerala, Chief Minister of Kerala, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan,Ministers of State Mansukh Mandaviya , V. Muraleedharanwere present on the occasion.

– Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that the works inaugurated today cover a wide range of sectors. They will energise the growth trajectory of India.

– He said that Propylene DerivativePetrochemical Project (PDPP), inaugurated today, will help strengthen India’s journey towards being Aatmanirbhar as it will save foreign exchange.

– A wide range of industries would gain and employment opportunities would be generated.

– Similarly, with Ro-Ro Vessels, a distance of almost thirty kilometres on road will become 3.5 kilometers through waterways leading to less congestion and more convenience, commerce and capacity-building.

– The Prime Minister asserted that the Government of India is undertaking many efforts to improve tourism related infrastructure in Kerala.The inauguration of Sagarika, the International Cruise Terminal in Kochi is one example of this.

  1. India Maps the 21st Century

Why in news?

The Department of Science and Technology is announcing sweeping changes to India’s mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies.

Key points are:

– Maps and accurate geospatial data are crucial for national infrastructure projects such as linkages of rivers, creation of industrial corridors and deploying smart power systems.

– Emerging vibrant technologies like Digital India, Smart Cities, eCommerce, autonomous drones, delivery, logistics and urban transport require a leap forward in mapping with greater depth, resolution and precision.

– In every economic endeavor, spanning agriculture, finance, construction, mining and local enterprise, India’s farmers, small businesses and corporations alike stand to gain tremendously from the application of innovative technologies based on modern geospatial data technologies and mapping services.

– The Hon’ble Prime Minister observed however, that the existing regime imposed significant restrictions on the mapping industry – from creation to dissemination of maps, requiring Indian companies to seek licenses, follow a cumbersome system of pre-approvals and permissions.

– Compliance with these regulatory restrictions has subjected startups in India to unnecessary red tape, hindering Indian innovation in map technologies for decades.

– To realise India’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and the goal of a 5 trillion-dollar economy, the regulations that apply to geospatial data and maps henceforth stand radically liberalised.

–  Furthermore,our corporations and innovators are no longer subject to restrictions nor do they require prior approvals before they collect, generate, prepare, disseminate, store, publish, update digital Geospatial Data and Maps within the territory of India.

–  India is emerging as a mapping power, creating next generation indigenous maps of India and taking these new technologies to the rest of the world.

  1. India’s first full-fledged international cruise terminal

Why in news?

– India’s first full-fledged international cruise terminal is inaugurated in Kerala.

Key points are:

– Kochi is a city of trade and commerce. The people of this city understand that time is of the essence. They also appreciate the importance of proper connectivity.

– Two important factors that shape economic development are: Capacity Building and  Making infrastructure modern  for future needs. The next two development works are related to these themes. ‘Vigyan Sagar’, is the new knowledge campus of Cochin Shipyard.

– This year’s Budget has devoted significant resources and schemes that will benefit Kerala. This includes the next phase of the Kochi Metro. This metro network has come up successfully and has set a good example of progressive work practices and professionalism.

  1. Disqualification of 7 Nagaland MLAs

Why in news?

– The Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court has dismissed two interlocutory applications filed by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) that sought to keep seven of its suspended MLAs off the 60-member Nagaland Assembly.

Background

The applications were dismissed pending a final verdict on a plea by the seven MLAs challenging the maintainability of a writ petition relating to their disqualification.

About the issue

– The NPF filed disqualification petitions on 24 April, 2019,  against its seven suspended MLAs for “wilfully” defying its collective decision to support the Congress candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

– NPF claimed the seven MLAs had willfully given up their party membership, thereby attracting provisions under the 10th Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.

– These MLAs, however, said as the NPF’s decision to support the Congress candidate was “against the principle of regionalism”, they said they had backed the other candidate. The NPF had not contested the polls.

  1. Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Why in news?

Lok Sabha Passes Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021. It is already in force by way of an Ordinance promulgated on 4th November, 2020.

Key points of the Bill are:

– It seeks to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 so as to (i) enable automatic stay on awards in certain cases and (ii) specify by regulations the qualifications, experience and norms for accreditation of arbitrators.

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

– Also does away with the 8th Schedule of the Act that contained the necessary qualifications for accreditation of arbitrators.

– Added a provison in Section 36 of the Arbitration Act and will come into effect retrospectively from October 23, 2015. As per this amendment, if the Court is satisfied that a prima facie case is made out that the arbitration agreement or contract which is the basis of the award was induced or effected by fraud or corruption, it will stay the award unconditionally pending disposal of the challenge made to the award under Section 34.

  1. Doubling Farmers Income

Recently, the Central Government admitted that no actual assessment of farm income has been carried out since 2013.

Key points are:

– The Government of India in its Annual Budget 2016-17 set a policy target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

– Agriculture sustains livelihood for more than half of India’s total population. Doubling farmers’ income in such a short period is an overwhelming task for decision makers, scientists and policy makers because of its continued role in employment, income and most importantly in national food security.

– Doubling farmers’ income is possible through increasing total output and better price realization in the market, reduction in production costs,diversification of product, efficient post-harvest management, value addition, etc.

Some institutional reforms taken by the Government are:

– Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Soil health card, and Prampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana: Aiming to raise output and reduce cost.

– Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana: To provide insurance against crop and income loss and to encourage investment in farming.

– Interlinking of rivers – To raise output and farm incomes.

– Operation Greens: To address price volatility of perishable commodities like Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP).

– PM Kisan Sampada Yojana: To promote food processing in a holistic manner.

Some Technological Reforms are:

Initiating E-NAM: The National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

Technology mission on cotton: Its objective is to increase the income of the cotton growers by reducing the cost of cultivation as well as by increasing the yield per hectare through proper transfer of technology to the growers.

Technology Mission on Oilseeds, Pulses and Maize (TMOPM): Few schemes implemented under TMOPM are: Oilseeds Production Programme (OPP), National Pulses Development Project (NPDP), etc.

Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH): It is a scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo.

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