1. POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
CRIMINALIZATION OF POLITICS
- Recently, Supreme Court made it mandatory for political parties to publish, including on official social media pages, details of cases against their candidates and the reasons for selecting them over others.
- In Lok Prahari Vs UOI case 2018, SC made mandatory the disclosure of the source of income of political candidates as well as their dependants and associates would be mandatory. o Also, disclosure of information regarding contracts with the appropriate government either by the candidate or his/her spouse and dependants was also held to be disclosed mandatorily.
- In Public interest foundation case 2018, Court directed disclosure of criminal cases pending against the candidate by himself/herself through EC and his/her political party. Moreover, the criminal antecedent of candidates must be widely publicized through different media including the websites of concerned political parties.
PRISON REFORM IN INDIA
- Recently, a report by Justice Amitava Roy Committee for Prison Reforms, was taken up for hearing before the Supreme court (SC).
- ‘Prisons’ is a State subject under Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. o However, the Ministry of Home Affairs provides regular guidance and advice to States and UTs on various issues concerning prisons and prison inmates.
- Earlier former Chief Justice of India (CJI) in 2013 had pointed out the inadequacy of reformative schemes for offenders and other prominent issues like overcrowding of prisons, unnatural death of prisoners, the inadequacy of prison staff and present staff not being adequately trained.
- In response to this, SC had constituted a 3-member committee in 2018, to look into entire gamut of prison reforms across the country and suggest measures to deal with them.
JOB RESERVATIONS, PROMOTION QUOTAS NOT A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
- The Supreme Court ruled that there is no fundamental right to reservations in appointments and promotions under articles 16(4) and 16(4A) of the Constitution.
- The case pertains to a decision by the Uttarakhand government in 2012. Back then, the government had decided to fill up posts in public services without providing reservation to members of the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities.
- The Uttarakhand High Court directed the state government in 2019 to implement reservations in promotion by promoting only SCs and STs to maintain the quota earmarked for the said categories.
The Court held that:
- Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) are in the nature of enabling provisions, vesting a discretion on the State Government to consider providing reservations, if the circumstances so warrant.
o Article 16(4) empowers state to make any provision for reservation of appointments in favour of any backward class which in opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under State.
o Article 16(4A), empowers state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees.
- The Supreme Court has directed all the states to come out with notifications for establishing ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ within a month and has asked the High Courts to expedite process of consultation with state governments on this issue.
- Entry 65 of State List in 7th schedule empowers states with “jurisdiction and powers of all courts, except the Supreme Court, with respect to any of the matters in this list”. “Administration of justice; constitution and Organisation of all courts, except the Supreme Court and the High Courts” falls under Concurrent list.
- Gram Nayalayas Act, 2008 came into force on October 2, 2009. More than 5000 Gram Nyayalayas were expected to be set up under the Act for which the Central Government allocated about Rs.1400 crores by way of assistance to the concerned States/Union Territories.
- However, presently only 11 states have taken steps to notify Gram Nyayalayas so far. Only 208 Gram Nyayalayas are functioning in the country.
About Gram Nyayalayas
- Structure: It is established for every Panchayat at intermediate level or a group of contiguous Panchayats at intermediate level in a district.
o The State Government, in consultation with the High Court, notifies the boundaries of the area under the jurisdiction of a Gram Nyayalaya. It can also alter such limits at any time.
o It can hold mobile courts in villages falling under its jurisdiction and State Government shall extend all required facilities.
- Appointments: The State Government shall appoint a presiding officer called Nyayadhikari for every Gram Nyayalaya in consultation with the High Court, who will be a person eligible to be appointed as a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class.
- A Gram Nyayalaya is not bound by the rules of evidence provided in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 but is guided by the principles of natural justice and is subject to any rule made by the High Court.
o An appeal against a judgement of a criminal case shall be taken to the Court of Session, while a civil case appeal shall be taken to District court. Appeals have to be heard and disposed of within six months.
INNER LINE PERMIT
Recently, Manipur has launched an online portal for the travellers to seek Inner Line Permits.
- It is a travel document that allows an Indian citizen to visit or stay in a state that is protected under the ILP system. o Foreigners need a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit tourist places which are different from Inner Line Permits needed by domestic tourists.
- The system is in force today in four North eastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur, Mizoram.
- No Indian citizen can visit any of these states unless he or she belongs to that state, nor can he or she overstay beyond the period specified in the ILP.
- The concept stems from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, where the British framed regulations restricting the entry and regulating the stay of outsiders in designated areas.
22nd LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA
Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the creation of the 22nd Law Commission, with a term of three years.
The 21st Law Commission, under Justice B.S. Chauhan, was established in 2015 and had tenure upto August 31st 2018. It had submitted reports and working papers on key issues such as simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha/State Assemblies and Uniform Civil Code.
About the 22nd Law Commission
It will consist of:
o a full-time Chairperson (usually who is a retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court);
o four full-time Members (including Member-Secretary) o Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as ex-officio Member;
o Secretary, Legislative Department as ex officio Member; and o not more than five part-time Members.
Terms of reference:
The Law Commission shall
o identify laws which are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed;
o examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy and suggest ways of improvement and reform.
o consider and convey to the Government its views on any subject relating to law and judicial administration that may be specifically referred to it by the Government through Ministry of Law and Justice.
o Consider the requests for providing research to any foreign countries as may be referred to it by the Government through the Ministry of Law and Justice (Department of Legal Affairs);
o take all such measures as may be necessary to harness law and the legal process in the service of the poor;
o revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities, and inequities.
Central government has constituted the Delimitation Commission for the purpose of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
- Commission will delimit the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, and of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland in accordance with the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002.
- The delimitation in J&K will be based on the Census of 2011 due to an amendment in the J&K Reorganisation Act.
o The last delimitation of J&K was done in 1995.
- Commission will be headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Ranjana Desai.
2. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
TRUMP’S VISIT TO INDIA
Recently, Donald Trump visited India becoming first US President to come to India on a stand-alone visit in the seven decades of Indo-US diplomatic ties.
Key takeaways from recent visit
- ‘Namaste Trump’ event was organised on the lines of ‘Howdy, Modi!’ held in Houston last year.
- India-US upgraded their relationship to ‘Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership’.
- US International Development Finance Corporation announced $600 million financing facility for renewable energy projects in India.
- Strategic Convergence in the Indo-Pacific: US appreciated India’s role as a net provider of security in Indian Ocean Region and both countries decided to propose a new partnership between USAID and India’s Development Partnership Administration for cooperation in third countries.
- Defence cooperation: USA reaffirmed India’s status as a Major Defence Partner.
o Both countries decided for early conclusion Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
o $2.6 billion worth of 24 Seahawk (MH-60 Romeo) anti-submarine warfare helicopters for the Indian Navy and an $800 million deal for the purchase of 6 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters deals were finalised.
Recently, the United States of America signed the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
Key Highlights of the Agreement
- Withdrawal of foreign forces. The United States agreed to reduce its number of troops in the country from roughly 12,000 to 8,600 within 135 days. o If the Taliban follows through on its commitments, all U.S. and other foreign troops will leave Afghanistan within fourteen months.
- Release of prisoners- The deal also provides for a prisoner swap. Some 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 Afghan security force prisoners would be exchanged by 10 March, when talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are due to start.
- Recognition to Taliban- The US will move to the United Nations Security Council to remove Taliban members from the sanctions list.
Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has pitched for revival of SAARC for better regional integration and development of the region.
Background of current scenario
- The last SAARC summit was held in 2014 and subsequent summits could not be held after 2016 Summit scheduled in Pakistan got cancelled in the backdrop of terrorist attacks in Pathankot and Uri. o In 2016, India along with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka declined from participating in the Islamabad SAARC summit.
- In SAARC Minister’s Meeting 2019, both countries’ ministers boycotted each other’s speeches.
- In the regional outreach of BRICS summit of 2016, rather than SAARC, BIMSTEC leaders were invited giving message that BIMSTEC (of which Pakistan is not a member), has come to be flaunted as an alternative to SAARC.
A meeting of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) was held recently.
- The meeting was held to discuss the passenger and cargo Protocols that are to give effect to the Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.
- This is the first meeting of the group since their meeting in Bengaluru in January 2018, when the two Protocols were last discussed.
- Bhutan participated in observer capacity.
About BBIN MVA
- The BBIN project was conceived when SAARC at its 18th Summit in Kathmandu failed to sign a SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement in November 2014-chiefly because of Pakistan.
- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have signed a sub-regional Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) in June 2015 for regulation of passenger, personnel and cargo vehicular traffic between the four BBIN countries.
- Originally, the BBIN MVA mentioned 30 identified priority transport connectivity projects with an estimated cost of over US $8 billion that will rehabilitate and upgrade remaining sections of trade and transport corridors in the BBIN countries.
- India, Nepal and Bangladesh have ratified the Agreement while Bhutan failed to get its Parliament’s nod to ratify the same. It has some reservations about its environmental impact owing to increased traffic of heavy-duty vehicles.
BREXIT: UK LEAVES THE EUROPEAN UNION
The United Kingdom has officially left the European Union (EU) after 47 years of membership.
- In 2016, a referendum took place to decide whether UK should stay in European Union. In the referendum people decided that UK should leave EU.
- In 2017, UK formally triggered Article 50 of Lisbon treaty and began the two-year countdown of BREXIT.
- However, due to lack of support for the BREXIT deal in the UK’s parliament, multiple extensions were sought by it.
- On 31st January UK became the first state to leave the EU and an 11-month transition period has kicked in.
About the European Union
- It is an economic and political union involving 27 European countries.
- It allows free trade and free movement of people, to live, trade and work in whichever country they choose.
- Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty provides for exit of member countries from European Union.
o For any country to come out of European Union, it has to negotiate a settlement deal with EU.
- It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and other institutions
- The United Kingdom joined it in 1973.
SEZs in India have achieved 100-billion-dollar worth of exports in FY 2019-20.
- Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a specifically delineated duty-free enclave and deemed to be foreign territory for the purposes of trade operations, duties and tariffs.
- India’s SEZ Policy was implemented from 1 April 2000. Subsequently SEZ Act, 2005 was introduced.
- The main objectives of SEZs were, generation of economic activity, promotion of exports and investment, employment generation, infrastructure development.
Brief overview of SEZs
- Number of operational SEZs have grown to 241 as against 235 at the end of FY 2018-19.
- Exports from SEZs are growing at a faster rate than overall exports from the country. E.g. In April-June 2019, even as overall export growth from India slowed down to 2 per cent, exports from SEZs posted a robust 15 per cent growth.
- In SEZs, growth in manufacturing segment was around 4%, while in services segment (constituting majorly of IT & ITeS) export growth was 23.69%.
The Union Cabinet has given its ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up a Major Port at Vadhavan, located about190 km north of JNPT in Maharashtra.
- India has 12 major and 205 notified minor and intermediate ports.
o Only two major ports, namely Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) (1989) and Ennore (Kamrajar) Port (1999), and 9 minor ports by state governments have been developed in the last 30 years.
More about Vadhavan port
- The port site at Vadhavan has an 18m draft naturally available and a 20m navigational channel also naturally available.
o The two largest container ports of the country, JNPT and Mundra, have drafts of 15m and 16m, respectively, whereas the world’s largest container-handling modern deep draft ports require a draft of at least 18-20m.
- India’s biggest container port: With development of the Vadhavan port, India will break into countries with top 10 container ports in the world.
- Capacity Expansion: Development of this port will enable cargo container vessels of 16,000-25,000 TEUs capacity, giving advantage of economies of scale and reducing logistics cost.
FORMATION AND PROMOTION OF FARMER PRODUCER ORGANIZATIONS (FPOS)
Recently, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, approved scheme titled “Formation and Promotion of Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs)”.
What are Farmer Producer Organizations?
- A Producer Organisation (PO) is a legal entity (company, a cooperative society etc.) formed by primary producers, viz. farmers, milk producers, fishermen, weavers, rural artisans, craftsmen. • FPO is one type of PO where the members are farmers.
- Through formation of FPOs, the farmers will have better collective strength for better access to quality input, technology, credit and better marketing access through economies of scale for better realization of income.
- Current scenario:
o Currently, there are over 5,000 FPOs in the country. 20% of these are struggling to be viable and 50% are in mobilisation stage only.
o Only 45% of the small and marginal farmers are covered under institutional credit out of the 85% of S&M farmers.
About the scheme
- It is a Central Sector Scheme under Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
o 10,000 FPOs would be formed in five years period from 2019-20 to 2023-24 to ensure economies of scale for farmers.
o Handholding support to each FPO would be continued for 5 years from its year of inception for which support will continue till 2027-28.
- Beneficiaries: Small and marginal farmers who do not have economic strength to apply production technology, services and marketing including value addition.
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has recently approved the setting up of a National Technical Textiles Mission with a total outlay of ₹1,480 Crore.
About Technical Textiles
- Technical textiles (TT) are textiles materials and products manufactured primarily for technical performance and functional properties rather than aesthetic or decorative characteristics.
- Other terms used for TTs include industrial textiles, functional textiles, performance textiles, engineering textiles, invisible textiles and hi-tech textiles.
- They are used individually or as a component/part of another product to enhance its functional properties.
- They are not a single coherent industry and market segment is diverse and broad based.
o Its usage is in diverse industries from aero space to railways to construction etc. and is developing in other industries also due to technological advances.
About the National Technical Textiles Mission
- The aim of the mission is to position the country as a global leader in technical textiles and increase domestic use as well.
- It envisages a domestic market size to reach $4050 billion by 2024, which is valued at $16 billion presently.
- Mission Directorate will be operational in the Ministry of Textiles.
- The Mission will be implemented from 2020 to 2024 and will have four components.
INTEGRATED AIR DEFENCE WEAPON SYSTEM (IADWS)
The US has approved the sale of an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion.
Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS)
- The Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) is called as the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS-II).
CMS COP 13
Recently, the 13th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals’ (CMS) was held in Gandhinagar, India.
- India has officially taken over its Presidency for the next three years, till 2023.
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) or Bonn Convention
- It aims to protect terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their ranges.
- CMS was signed in Bonn, Germany, in 1979 as an intergovernmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- CMS brings together the governments of the countries through which migratory species pass – the Range States; it lays the legal foundation to conduct conservation measures on a global scale.
Key highlights of CMS COP 13
- Adoption of Gandhinagar Declaration- which calls for migratory species and the concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ to be integrated and prioritized in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October this year.
- Decisions on new species- Ten new species were added to CMS Appendices at COP13.
o Seven species were added to Appendix I, which provides the strictest protection: the Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross and the Oceanic Whitetip Shark.
ULTRA MEGA RENEWABLE ENERGY PARKS
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) aims to set up Ultra Mega Renewable Energy (RE) Parks with a capacity of a total of 50 GW in Gujarat and Rajasthan. More on News
- The initiative could be the one of the largest renewable energy investment programmes in the world.
- Khavada in Gujarat and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan have been identified for RE parks of 25,000 megawatt (25GW) each.
- Land would be made available for setting up solar, wind and wind hybrid plants and the proposed parks would have received necessary clearances of the respective state governments and the Ministry of Defence.
- Ministry of Power has also been requested to strengthen transmission to these locations within 24 months for evacuation of power from these parks.
ARSENIC CONTAMINATION IN GROUNDWATER
Recently, Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) released report on Groundwater Arsenic Contamination in India.
Key findings of the report
- 21 states across the country have pockets with arsenic levels higher than the Bureau of Indian Standards’ (BIS) stipulated permissible limit of 0.01 miligram per litre (mg/l).
- The states along the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam are the worst affected.
- Arsenic contamination in groundwater has penetrated the food chain, yet mitigation measures are targeted in treatment of groundwater or supply of surface water.
Consequences of arsenic contamination
- Drinking of arsenic-rich water results in skin cancer, cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung, diseases of the blood vessels and reproductive disorders.
- Regular extraction of ground water for irrigation deposits arsenic in soil and consequently its uptake by the crops. Also, paddy farms flooded with contaminated water eventually causes accumulation of arsenic in the food crops.
SCIENTIFIC DISPOSAL AND UTILIZATION OF FLY ASH
The National Green Tribunal has recently directed thermal power plants to take prompt steps toward the scientific disposal of fly ash.
- The tribunal said the non-compliant plants will have to pay environmental compensation.
- Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been asked to compute and levy environmental compensation.
- The tribunal also directed a committee comprising CPCB and IIT, Roorkee to assess the environmental damage with regard to the breach sites and submit its recommendation within three months.
Fly ash Generation in India
- Coal/Lignite based Thermal Power Generation has been the backbone of power capacity addition in the country. Indian coal is of low grade with ash content of the order of 30-45 % in comparison to imported coals which have low ash content of the order of 10-15%.
- Large quantity of ash is, thus being generated at coal/lignite based Thermal Power Stations in the country, which not only requires large area of precious land for its disposal but is also one of the sources of pollution of both air and water.
About Fly Ash
- It is a fine powder, which is the by-product of burning coal in thermal power plants.
- Composition: Fly ash includes substantial amounts of oxides of silica, aluminum and calcium. Elements like Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, lead etc. are also found in trace concentrations.
During the past few weeks, major locust attacks have been observed in several countries in western and southern Asia and in eastern Africa.
Areas affected by Locusts attack
- Locust swarms spread to Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in February.
- FAO has identified three hotspots of threatening locust activity- the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea area, and Southwest Asia.
o Horn of Africa has been called the worst-affected area, with an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods.
o In the Red Sea area, locusts have struck in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen.
o In Southwest Asia, locusts swarms have caused damage in Iran, India, and Pakistan.
- In India, locusts attacks emanating from the desert area in Pakistan have struck parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, causing heavy damage to standing crop.
- Locusts are a group of short-horned grasshoppers that multiply in numbers as they migrate long distances in destructive swarms (up to 150km in one day).
- The swarms devour leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, bark and growing points, and also destroy plants by their sheer weight as they descend on them in massive numbers.
- The desert locust is regarded as the most destructive pest in India as well as internationally, with a small swarm covering one square kilometre being able to consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.
- Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
INDIAN SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION TO THE SOUTHERN OCEAN 2020
Recently, the 11th expedition of an Indian mission to the Southern Ocean, or Antarctic Ocean has been commenced.
About the Expedition
- It is a part of the Indian Southern Ocean Research Program which was initiated in 2004 when the pilot expedition took place onboard ORV Sagar Kanya.
- This is the 11th such Expedition.
India’s Permanent stations in Antarctica
- It was established in 1983 over the Ice shelf in Central Dronning Maud Land region.
- The station was abandoned in 1990 as it got buried under snow.
- It was established in 1988 on an ice free, rocky area on the Schirmacher Oasis.
- Maitri also serves as a gateway to one of the largest mountain chains in central Dronning Maud land.
- It was established in 2013 is located between Thala Fjord & Quilty bay, east of Stornes Peninsula in Antarctica.
- It facilitates year-round scientific research activity by the Indian Antarctic program.
6. SOCIAL ISSUES
PERMANENT COMMISSION AND COMMAND POSITIONS TO WOMEN ARMY OFFICERS
Supreme Court of India has made a landmark verdict in The Secretary, Ministry of Defence versus Babita Punia and Others case (2011-2020), by allowing permanent commission (PC) status to women officers in Short Service Commission (SSC) in the Indian armed forces and making them eligible for command positions.
7. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Recently, The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested the country’s first ‘darknet’ narcotics operative, who allegedly shipped hundreds of psychotropic drug parcels abroad.
What is Dark Net?
- Also known as Dark Web, Dark Net is that part of the Internet that cannot be accessed through traditional search engines like Google nor is it accessible by normal browsers like Chrome or Safari.
- It generally uses non-standard communication protocols which makes it inaccessible by internet service providers (ISPs) or government authorities.
- The content on Dark Net is encrypted and requires specific browser such as TOR (The Onion Ring) browser to access those pages.
- Dark Net itself is only a part of the Deep Web that is a broader concept, which includes sites that are protected by passwords.
NATIONAL MISSION ON QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES & APPLICATIONS (NM-QTA)
The government in its Budget 2020 has announced the largest ever science mission- National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA).
- Quantum technologies are rapidly developing globally with a huge disruptive potential that is likely to change entire paradigm of computation, communication and encryption.
o Recently, a quantum computer built by Google, called Sycamore, took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that the world’s fastest supercomputer, Summit, would have taken 10,000 years to accomplish.
About the mission
- Ministry: It will be implemented by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology.
- Budget Outlay: It is proposed to provide an outlay of 8000 crore over a period five years.
- The areas of focus for the Mission will be in fundamental science, translation, technology development, human and infrastructural resource generation, innovation and start-ups to address issues concerning national priorities.
- Applications which will receive boost include those in aero-space engineering, numerical weather prediction, simulations, securing the communications & financial transactions, cyber security, advanced manufacturing, health, agriculture, education and other important sectors with focus on creation of high skilled jobs, human resources development, start-ups & entrepreneurship leading to technology lead economic growth.
MAPPING THE INDIAN GENOME
- Union government has given clearance to an ambitious gene mapping project known as the Genome India Project with an estimated worth of Rs 238 crores.
- The project has been cleared by Department of Biotechnology (under the Ministry of Science and Technology).
- It involves 20 leading institutions including the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru and a few IITs.
- The Centre for Brain Research, an autonomous institute of IISc, Bengaluru will serve as the nodal point of the project.
INTERNATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP) INDEX
- Recently International Intellectual Property Index 2020 was released by US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Centre (GIPC).
- India’s ranked 40th among 53 countries, while in 2019 India was ranked at 36th position out of 50 countries.
- The US, the UK, Sweden, France and Germany remained the top five economies on the index.
The Ministry of Culture recently set up a 7-member panel of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to locate the grave of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (1615-59), who is believed to be buried somewhere in the Humayun’s Tomb complex in Delhi.
About Dara Shikoh
- Dara Shikoh, was the eldest son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who in 1642, formally confirmed Dara Shikoh as his heir, granting him the title of Shahzada-e-Buland Iqbal.
- He was killed after losing the war of succession against his brother Aurangzeb.
- He was liberal in outlook and tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions.
Contributions to Art and Culture
- He translated the Bhagavad Gita as well as Upanishads from their original Sanskrit into Persian in 1657 so that they could be studied by Muslim scholars.
o His translation is often called Sirr-e-Akbar (“The Greatest Mystery”), where he states that the work referred to in the Quran is none other than the Upanishads.
o Majma-ul-Bahrain, a short treatise written in Persian, was also devoted to a revelation of the mystical and pluralistic affinities between Sufic and Vedantic speculation.
GURU RAVIDAS JAYANTI
Recently, the birth anniversary of Sant Ravidas was celebrated across the country.
About Sant Ravidas
- Sant Ravidas was a 14th-century poet-saint, social reformer and a spiritual figure and founder of the Bhakti movement in North India.
- His parents belonged to a leather-working untouchable community.
- His devotional songs were included in the Sikh scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib.
POOMPUHAR TO BE DIGITALLY RECONSTRUCTED
Poompuhar, a port city in Tamilnadu, submerged under Sea 1000 years ago is being digitally reconstructed under Indian Digital Heritage project.
- Poompuhar (Puhar) which served as capital of Chola Dynasty, is located at the mouth of Cauvery river.
- It is mentioned in Sangam literature and satellite studies showed that the city was established in the Cauvery Delta about 30 km away from the existing Poompuhar town around 15,000 years ago.
- It was submerged due to “kadalkol” or rising sea levels around 1000 years ago.
About Indian Digital Heritage project
- It is initiative of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), for the digital documentation and interpretation of our tangible and intangible heritage.
- The basic goal of the IDH project was to bring fine synergy of Geospatial technologies with matured ICT technologies to help preserve, use, and experience India’s vast heritage in digital form.
- It also aimed to provide analytic tools for the art-historian, the architect or any scientist in conducting scholarly studies of Indian heritage.
- First project under it was ‘Digital Hampi’.
9TH SCHEDULE OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- Recently there were demands to put reservation provisions for schedule caste, schedule tribe and other backward classes under 9th schedule of constitution.
- 9th Schedule of the Constitution contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts.
o Any act which is added under the 9th schedule gets resistant from any encroachment from judiciary even if it infringes the fundamental rights of an individual.
o It was added with the First amendment in 1951.
MALDIVES REJOINS COMMONWEALTH
- Maldives has recently re-joined the Commonwealth, bringing the total number of nations in the global organization to 54.
- Maldives last joined the Commonwealth in 1982 but quit it in 2016 after being threatened with suspension over its human rights record and lack of progress on democratic reform.
- It is s a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries, mostly former territories of the British Empire.
o Rwanda and Mozambique – have no historical ties to the British Empire.
- India is a member of the Commonwealth.
- Commonwealth Secretariat was created in 1965 as a central intergovernmental organisation to manage the Commonwealth’s work.
MOUS FOR ESTABLISHING ADDU TOURISM ZONE
- Recently, India and Maldives signed five MoUs for establishing the Addu Tourism zone in five islands of Addu atoll.
- A 6th MoU was also signed to set up a bottled water plant in Hoarafushi (an inhabited island of the northern-most atoll, Haa Alif Atoll in Maldives).
- All six projects are grant projects fall under India’s High Impact Community Development Scheme (HICDP).
- Addu atoll is also known as Seenu Atoll, and is the southernmost atoll of the Maldives.
o An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef that surrounds a body of water called a lagoon.
DIRECT TAX VIVAD SE VISHWAS BILL, 2020
- Recently, Lok Sabha passed the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme Bill.
- It is an amnesty scheme with the aim of reducing litigations related to direct taxes.
o The government expects to resolve 90% of the income tax disputes through this scheme.
- DRDO is developing the 200-km strike range Pranash ballistic missile which would be used for tactical missions.
- It is a surface-to-surface ballistic missile and will be used by the Army and the Air Force for destroying enemy targets at short ranges.
- The missile would be an advanced version of the 150-km strike range Prahar missile developed by the DRDO .
- It will be a non-nuclear missile and will be propelled by a single-stage solid propellant engine.
- It will be one of the cheapest missiles in the world in its range category.
- Sampriti- IX: It is joint military exercise between India and Bangladesh recently held at Umroi, Meghalaya.
- Indradhanush – V 2020: It is joint air force between India and United Kingdom recently held at Air Force Station Hindon in Uttar Pradesh.
- Ajeya Warrior-2020: It is joint military exercise between India and United Kingdom recently held at Salisbury Plains, United Kingdom.
FLAME THROATED BULBUL
- The flame-throated bulbul, also called as Rubigula, was chosen as the mascot for 36th National Games to be held in Goa.
- Flame-throated Bulbul is the State bird of Goa and is endemic to southern peninsular India.
- Recent data show that Parsi population in the country has gone up by 233 since the launch of the Jiyo Parsi Scheme.
- The population of Parsis, a notified minority community under National Commission of Minorities Act 1992, had declined from 1,14,000 in 1941 to 57,264 in 2011. In this backdrop the scheme was introduced.
- Jiyo Parsi scheme, launched in 2013, aims to arrest the decline in population of the Parsi Community in India.
MADHYA PRADESH RADIOTAGS RESCUED PANGOLINS
- On the eve of the ninth World Pangolin Day, the Madhya Pradesh forest department announced the first-ever successful radio-tagging of the Indian pangolin. Two rescued animals were radio-tagged and released in the Satpura tiger reserve six months ago.
- Pangolins are the most trafficked wildlife species in the world.
- Commonly known as scaly anteaters, the toothless animal evolved an armour of scales which has now become the main cause of its disappearance.
- They are the only mammals wholly-covered in scales.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE JAIPUR
- Recently, UNESCO presented the World Heritage City certificate for Jaipur.
- In July 2019, Jaipur the ‘Pink City of India’ was declared as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site.
- The fortified city of Jaipur was founded in 1727 by the Kachwaha Rajput ruler of Amber, Sawai Jai Singh II.
- It was established on the plain and built according to a grid plan interpreted in the light of Vedic architecture.