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Current Affairs January 2022

Current Affairs January – 2022

INDEX

  • INTERNATIONAL ( WORLD)
  • POLITY
  • ECONOMY
  • AGRICULTURE
  • HISTORY , ART & CULTURE
  • APPOINTMENTS
  • SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
  • DEFENCE
  • RANKS AND REPORTS
  • SCHEMES
  • BIODIVERSITY AND ENVIRONMENT
  • AWARDS AND HONOURS
  • BOOKS
  • OBITUARIES / DEATHS
  • SPORTS/ GAMES
  • IMPORTANT DAYS
  • STATE’s News
  • MISCELLANEOUS

INTERNATIONAL / WORLD NEWS 

China’s new border law

  • China’s new law on land borders, passed on October 23, has come into effect from 1st Jan 2022.
  • This has happened at a time when,
  • The border standoff in eastern Ladakh remains unresolved
  • China has renamed several places in Arunachal Pradesh as part of its claim on the Indian state, and What is the new law?
  • The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress passed the law for the protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas.
  • The new law lays down that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) shall set up boundary markers on all its land borders to clearly mark the border. It is encouraging the development of villages for civilians in the border areas by mandating the state to take measures to : strengthen border defence, support economic and social development, improve public services and infrastructure in such areas, encourage and support people’s life and work there.
  • It asks the state to resolve land border related-affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations.
  • The law provides for provisions for formation of joint committees, both civil and military, with the said countries to negotiate land border management and resolve border-related issues.
  • The law lays conditions under which the state can impose emergency measures, including border shutdown.
  • Note : China has a 22,100-kilometer land border with 14 countries. It has resolved the boundary disputes with 12 neighbours. India and Bhutan are the two countries with which China is yet to finalise the border agreements.

China is building a bridge across the Pangong Tso Lake

  • China is constructing a bridge in Eastern Ladakh connecting the North and South Banks of Pangong Tso.
  • The bridge is located in Chinese territory. But the bridge would significantly bring down the time for People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to move troops and equipment between the two sectors.
  • The bridge is located around 25 kms ahead of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and is just east of Khurnak Fort in Rutog county (Historically a part of India, Khurnak Fort has been under Chinese control since 1958).

India-China Dispute on Pangong Tso Lake

  • Pangong Tso is an endorheic lake (landlocked). India holds just 1/3rd of the lake.
  • The lake has mountain spurs of the Chang Chenmo range jetting down referred to as fingers which are divided 8 parts.
  • The Chinese say that the Line of Actual Control(LAC) is at finger 4. But, India’s perceived LAC is at finger 8. This leads to frequent disputes in the area.
  • The North bank of the lake has much higher differences in perception of LAC than the South bank (South Bank of Pangong leads to Kailash range and to the Chushul sector).
  • In 2020, as part of the first phase of disengagement, India and China have agreed for complete disengagement on the North and South Banks of Pangong Lake.
  • Currently, the Indian Army has a permanent position near Finger 3, the Dhan Singh Thapa post, while the PLA has a base East of Finger 8.

Non-Proliferation: World powers pledged to stop spread of nuclear weapons

  • Five permanent (P5) United Nations Security Council members (China, France, Russia, the UK and US) have pledged to prevent atomic weapons from spreading and to avoid nuclear conflict.
  • This pledge was made ahead of a review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),1970.

What is the pledge made by the Five permanent UNSC members?

  • The spread of atomic weapons must be prevented. This is because a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
  • They emphasized that the avoidance of war between the Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as their foremost responsibilities
  • They said that Nuclear weapons — for as long as they continue to exist — should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent war.
  • They have pledged to abide by a key article in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under which countries have committed to full future disarmament from nuclear weapons.
  • Note: Nuclear weapons have only been used in the conflict in the US bombings of Japan at the end of World War II.
  • Lastly, they have also expressed their intention to maintain and further strengthen their national measures to prevent unauthorised or unintended use of nuclear weapons.

What is the significance of this pledge?

  • The pledge comes as tensions between Russia and the US have reached heights rarely seen since the Cold War over a Russian troop build-up close to the Ukrainian border.
  • Moreover, the statement also comes at a time when the world powers seek to reach an agreement with Iran on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which became toothless by the US walking out of the accord in 2018.

Desmond Tutu’s body underwent Aquamation

  • Recently, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Anglican archbishop and anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu died.
  • In concurrence of his passion to save the environment, his body underwent aquamation, a green alternative to traditional cremation methods.
  • The process of aquamation uses energy which is five times less than fire. It also reduces by about 35% the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted during cremation.

About Aquamation:

  • It is a process in which the body of the deceased is immersed for a few hours in a mixture of water and a strong alkali in a pressurized metal cylinder and heated to around 150 degree centigrade. The combination of gentle water flow, temperature and alkalinity accentuate the breakdown of the organic materials. The process leaves behind bone fragments and a neutral liquid called effluent. The effluent is sterile, and contains salts, sugars, amino acids and peptides. There is no tissue and no DNA left after the process completes.
  • Note : The process was developed and patented in 1888 by Amos Herbert Hanson, a farmer who was trying to develop an ingenious way to make fertilizer from animal carcasses. The first commercial system was installed at Albany Medical College in 1993.
  • Desmond Tutu is one of South Africa’s most well-known human rights activists, winning the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid. He is known as the voice of the voiceless for Black South Africans. When Nelson Mandela was elected as the nation’s first Black president—he appointed Tutu chairperson of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

Sudan turmoil continues

  • Recently, Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned, plunging the country into further turmoil.
  • Hamdok, who was sacked by the military in October 2021 and reinstated a few weeks later as part of a deal, stepped down as anti-military protests continued to rock the country.
  • Sudanese pro-democracy groups rejected Mr. Hamdok’s deal with the military and demanded the Generals hand over power to an independent civilian authority.

Turmoil in Kazakhstan

  • Recently, a sharp and sudden spike in fuel prices triggered a national crisis in Kazakhstan, with the government officially stepping down following days of violent protests across the country.
  • Russian-led forces have also arrived in Kazakhstan at the request of the country’s authoritarian president, amid a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

New 5 non permanent members in UNSC

  • The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) got five new non permanent members (Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates).
    • Estonia, Niger, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam finished their terms recently.
  • Albania is joining for the first time while Brazil is taking an 11th turn. Gabon and Ghana each have been on the council three times before and the UAE once.
  • More than 50 of the UN’s 193 member countries have never been elected to the council since its formation.
  • Note : The council has 15 members: the five permanent (P5) members and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms. The five permanent members are the United States, the Russian Federation, France, China and the United Kingdom. India, for the eighth time, has entered the UNSC as a non-permanent member last year (2021) and will stay on the council for two years i.e 2021-22. The council’s presidency is a capacity that rotates every month among its 15 members.
  • Voting : Each member of the Security Council has one Decisions of the Security Council on matters are made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members. A “No” vote (veto) from one of the five permanent members blocks the passage of the resolution.

Maya civilization

  • A recent study reveals that drought was likely not the sole reason for the collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization.

What is Maya Civilisation?

  • Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization. The civilization originated in the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • The civilization developed in the area that today comprises southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.
  • The civilization was known for its monumental architecture and an advanced understanding of mathematics and astronomy.
  • The civilization flourished between 600 and 800 AD. However, between 800 and 950 AD, many of the cities of civilization were abandoned. This period is called the collapse of the Classic Maya civilisations.

Why was this study conducted?

  • Based on evidence from the past, Scientists think that this period saw significant droughts. This led to a theory that the Maya people faced starvation because of their dependence on drought-sensitive crops such as corn, beans and squash.
  • However, several scientists were not convinced with the drought theory. That’s why this study was conducted. How was the study conducted, and what are the findings?
  • Scientists made a list of 497 indigenous food plants of the Maya lowlands. These plants have also been identified through paleoethnobotany, a branch of science dealing with behavioural and ecological interactions between past humans and plants.
  • They examined the drought tolerance of the plants under three different scenarios: Short-duration, medium-duration and extreme drought. Even in extreme situations, many plants persisted.
  • Based on this, they said that drought was likely not the sole reason for the collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization. The researchers think that social and economic upheaval also likely have played a role.

Other nearby Ancient Civilizations

  • The Incan Civilization- Ecuador, Peru, and Chile
  • The Aztec Civilization- Mexico

China’s status as a ‘developing country’ at the WTO has become a contentious issue

  • Recently, China got the ‘developing country’ status at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • It has become a contentious issue with a number of countries raising concerns against the decision. What are the benefits associated with developing country status?
  • Certain WTO agreements give developing countries special rights through ‘special and differential treatment’ (S&DT).
  • It also allows other countries to offer preferential treatment.   How is a ‘developing country’ status decided?
  • WTO has not defined ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries and therefore member countries are free to announce whether they are ‘developed’ or ‘developing’.

Why are so many countries objecting to China’s developing country status?

  • China’s per capita income has come to a level of upper middle-income country, according to the World Bank’s classification.
  • Apart from this it has been alleged of unfair trade practices such as preferential treatment for state enterprises, data restrictions and inadequate enforcement of intellectual property rights.

How has China responded? What would be the impact of China losing this status?

  • China has in the past reacted quite negatively to such views by the countries, and has also maintained that it is the “world’s largest developing economy”.
  • However, it has recently indicated that it may be willing to forego many benefits of being a developing country.
  • For example: It may forego all exemptions available to developing countries in negotiations aimed at cutting fishing subsidies to curb overfishing.
  • If China in future decides to forego the developing country status, It would impact negotiations in future agreements.

What are LDCs, and what are the benefits of LDC classification?

  • WTO recognises Least developed countries (LDCs) relying on a classification by the UN. It is based on a criterion that is reviewed every three years.
  • LDCs are often exempted from certain provisions of WTO pacts.
  • Concerns have been raised over the ‘least developed country’ (LDC) status, with Bangladesh potentially losing this tag after surpassing India in terms of GDP per capita.
  • Bangladesh, currently classified as an LDC, receives zero duty, zero quota access for almost all exports to the EU.
  • It is, however, set to lose its LDC status in 2026 as its per capita GDP has risen sharply, surpassing that of India in FY21.

Turkmenistan: ‘Gateway to Hell’

  • Recently, the President of Turkmenistan has ordered experts to find a way to extinguish a fire in a huge natural gas crater named the Darvaza gas crater (Located in the Karakum desert, 260 kilometres away from Ashgabat).
  • It is also called Gateway to Hell. In 2018, the country’s president officially renamed it the “Shining of Karakum”.
  • It has the crater has been burning for the last 50 years
  • The rationale behind the order to extinguish it
  • It negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby.
  • Turkmenistan has been at the centre of methane leakages.
  • Methane is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas, exposure to which causes 1 million premature deaths every year.
  • Methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas.

India appeals against WTO order on sugar

Background :  In 2019, Brazil, Australia and Guatemala had filed parallel complaints at the WTO alleging that India has exceeded its WTO commitments on domestic support and export subsidies to sugar. India had lost the dispute over subsidies of sugar exports at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The dispute settlement panel had ruled against India on a complaint filed by Brazil, Australia, and Guatemala. It has asked India to withdraw its prohibited subsidies within 120 days from the adoption of its report.

Why in News now : India has appealed against a ruling of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade dispute settlement panel which ruled that the country’s domestic support measures for sugar and sugarcane are inconsistent with global trade norms.  

WTO’s Appellate Body: The appeal was filed by India in the WTO’s Appellate Body, which is the final authority on such trade disputes. 

Sanctions over North Korea

  • Recently, the US has imposed its first sanctions over North Korea’s weapons programs following a series of North Korean missile
  • These sanctions were aimed both to prevent the advancement of North Korea’s programs and to impede its attempts to proliferate weapons technologies.
  • North Korea is continuing its missile program despite several UN Security Council resolutions and the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization.

NATO-Russia Council  (NRC)

  • In news : Recently, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Russia discussed the ongoing situation in Ukraine and its implications for security in Europe at the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in Brussels. Talks between representatives of NATO and Russia concluded without a clear outcome.

About NATO-Russia Council: 

  • NRC was established at the NATO-Russia Summit in Rome (Rome Declaration) on 28 May 2002.
  • It replaced the Permanent Joint Council (PJC), a forum for consultation and cooperation created by the 1997 NATORussia Founding Act on Mutual Relations.
  • The NRC is a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action, in which the individual NATO member states and Russia work as equal partners on a wide spectrum of security issues of common interest.

Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga  eruption

  • Recently, a volcano erupted in the southern Pacific Island of Tonga, which triggered Tsunami waves around the Pacific.
  • It is an Undersea Volcanic Eruption consisting of two small uninhabited islands, Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga.
  • The Tonga Islands occur along the Ring of Fire—a perimeter of heightened volcanic and seismic activity that encircles the Pacific Ocean basin.

Tennis Court Kohima War Cemetery

  • Recently, the United Kingdom-based Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has listed five sites with unusual features. These sites are associated with World War I and World War II.
  • Nagaland capital Kohima is included in the list because of the Kohima War Cemetery.
  • Nagaland’s capital Kohima probably has the only cemetery on earth that sports a tennis court. The Kohima War Cemetery is one of 23,000 World War graves across the continents maintained by the CWGC.

Formation of the Cemetery:

  • On 3rd April 1944, a Japanese force of 15,000 attacked Kohima and its 2,500-strong force.
  • It led to two weeks of difficult, bloody fighting as the defending forces were pushed back to the former house of the British Deputy Commissioner.
  • The lawn of this house had a tennis court where the British officers played for recreation.
  • The surviving defenders, encamped around the garden tennis court, prepared for their final stand. As the Japanese forces prepared to attack, they were attacked in turn by the lead tanks of a relief force, saving the defenders and pushing the attackers back.
  • Despite this setback, the Japanese force continued to fight for Kohima before they were finally forced to withdraw in May 1944.
  • Those who had fallen in the defence of Kohima were buried on the battlefield, which later became a permanent CWGC cemetery, with further burials from the surrounding areas.

Drone attack on UAE by Houthi rebels of Yemen

  • Recently, a suspected drone attack in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), caused multiple explosions in which two Indians were also killed.
  • The Shia Houthi rebels of Yemen, who have been controlling the northern parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a, for almost seven years, have claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Earlier in 2021, there was a ballistic missile attack by the Houthis on the Saudi capital Riyadh. 

“Nusantara”

  • Recently, Indonesia’s parliament has passed a law approving the relocation of its capital from slowly sinking Jakarta to a site 2,000 kilometres away on jungle-clad Borneo island that will be named “Nusantara”.
  • Note : Jakarta lies on the northwest coast of densely populated Java island.
  • Reasons for Relocation: Jakarta has long been plagued by serious infrastructure problems and flooding exacerbated by climate change, with experts predicting up to a third of the city could be underwater by 2050(due to rise in sea level) .
  • Other such examples : Malaysia moved its government to Putrajaya from Kuala Lumpur in 2003, while Myanmar moved its capital to Naypyidaw from Rangoon in 2006.

PM Narendra Modi virtually address WEF’s Davos Agenda 2022 Summit

  • India’s PM has addressed the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Davos Agenda Summit 2022, through videoconferencing. The “Davos Agenda 2022” summit is being held digitally from January 17 to January 21, 2022, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (The theme of the event is “The State of the World”).

Key points :

  • One Earth, One Health: During the course of Covid-19, India saved many lives by exporting essential medicines and vaccines by following its vision of “One Earth, One Health”. India has delivered 1154.173 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 97 countries till 31st December 2021.
  • India is the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical producer and is considered ‘pharmacy to the world’.
  • Pro-Planet People (P3) Approach: Proposed the idea of the “P3 (Pro-Planet-People) movement” that underscores India’s commitments to climate change at the global forum (UNFCCC COP 26).
  • Reiterated India’s “clean, green, sustainable, and reliable” energy goals which dwell on achieving a net-zero carbon emission target by 2070.
  • Note : The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss nonprofit foundation established in 1971, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

India launches infra & development projects in Mauritius

  • In News : Prime Minister of India and his Mauritian counterpart jointly inaugurated India-assisted social housing unit’s project in Mauritius virtually.
  • Background : In May 2016, India had extended a grant of USD 353 mn to Mauritius as Special Economic Package (SEP) to execute five priority projects identified by Mauritius, among others.
  • These were: the Metro Express Project, Supreme Court Building, New ENT Hospital, Supply of Digital Tablets to Primary School Children, and the Social Housing Project.
  • With the inauguration of the Social Housing Project, all the high profile projects under the SEP have been implemented.
  • Foundation Stone for Two Other Projects: o Construction of a State-of-the-Art Civil Service College
    • 8 MW Solar PV Farm (It involves the installation of 25,000 PV cells to generate approximately 14 GWh of green energy annually, to electrify approximately 10,000 Mauritian households). 

90-day “environmental emergency” in Peru

  • The Peruvian government declared a 90-day “environmental emergency” in damaged coastal territories, after an oil spill that saw 6,000 barrels of crude oil pour into the sea.
  • The spill was caused by freak waves, which resulted from the eruption of a volcano in Tonga.
  • The oil spill came out of a tanker belonging to the Spanish energy firm Repsol. The incident occurred at the La Pampilla refinery, some 30 kilometers north of the Peruvian capital of Lima in the Ventanilla district of the port city of Callao.
  • A freak wave or rogue wave is usually defined as a wave that is two times the significant wave height of the area. Rogue waves can disable and sink even the largest ships and oil rigs.

Military Rule in Burkina Faso

  • Recently, Burkina Faso’s army announced that it had ousted President Roch Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and the national assembly, and closed the country’s borders.Other similar instances :
  • Army has toppled governments over the past 18 months in Mali and Guinea.
  • The military also took over in Chad last year (2021) after President Idriss Deby died fighting rebels on the battlefield in the country’s north.About Burkina Faso:
  • The country’s name, meaning “land of the honest men“, was picked by revolutionary military officer Thomas Sankara who took power in 1983. He was toppled and killed in 1987.
  • Since 2015, the country has been fighting an Islamist insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali. This has fuelled anger in the military and damaged the once important tourist industry.
  • Landlocked Burkina Faso, one of West Africa’s poorest countries despite being a gold producer, has experienced numerous coups since independence from France in 1960.
  • Islamist militants control swathes of Burkina Faso’s territory and have forced residents in some areas to abide by their harsh version of Islamic law, while the military’s struggle to quell the insurgency has drained scarce national resources.

India and Israel Relations

  • To mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, India and Israel launched a commemorative logo.
  • The logo features the Star of David and the AshokaChakra- the two symbols that adorn the national flags of both countries- and forms the numeral 30 depicting the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations.

Diplomatic Ties:

  • Though India officially recognised Israel in 1950, the two countries established full diplomatic ties only on 29th January 1992. As of December 2020, India was among 164 United Nations (UN) member states to have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Other facts :

  • India is Israel’s third-largest trade partner in Asia and seventh largest globally. Trade in diamonds constitutes about 50% of bilateral trade.
  • India is the largest buyer of military equipment from Israel, which, in turn, is the second-largest defence supplier to India, after Russia.

The America COMPETES Act

  • The United States has unveiled the ambitious America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act, 2022.

What is the COMPETES Act, 2022?

  • Aim: a) To open up new vistas for talented individuals from across the world with a new start-up visa and b) To make the supply chains stronger and reinvigorate the innovation engine of the country’s economy to outcompete China and the rest of the world for decades to come.

What are the key provisions of the COMPETES Act,2022?

  • Firstly, it allocated grants and loans to encourage semiconductor production in the US and to improve supply chain resilience and manufacturing.
  • Secondly, it proposes funding to address social and economic inequality, climate change and immigration. For example, it offers an exemption for STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) PhDs from the green card limit.
  • Thirdly, it has allocated USD 600 million a year to build manufacturing facilities to make the United States less dependent on solar components manufactured in Xinjiang, China.
  • Fourthly, it proposes a new category of visa called the “W” classification. This visa will be for non-immigrant entrepreneurs with an ownership interest in a start-up entity, essential employees of a start-up entity and their spouses and children.

What is the significance of the COMPETES Act for India?

  • This Act would create more opportunities in the US for Indian talent and skilled workers. Usually, Indians and Indian companies corner the lion’s share of H-1B work permits issued every year. With this new category, Indian professionals will likely have a better shot at opportunities.

India-Central Asia Virtual Summit

  • The Prime Minister has hosted the India-Central Asia Summit in virtual format.
  • Central Asia Summit is the first of its kind engagement between India and the Central Asian countries at the level of leaders. The summit was attended by the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Objectives of the Summit: a) To make it clear that cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security and prosperity, b) To give an effective structure to our cooperation and c) To create an ambitious roadmap for our cooperation.
  • Delhi Declaration: The leaders issued the Delhi Declaration at the end of the summit.
  • Institutionalise Summit Mechanism: The countries agreed to institutionalise the Summit mechanism by deciding to hold it every 2 years. An India-Central Asia Secretariat in New Delhi would also be set up to support the new mechanism.
  • Annual Meetings: There will be annual meetings of the Foreign, Trade and Cultural Ministers and Secretaries of Security (National Security Advisors).
  • Connectivity, Defence and Cultural Relations: They discussed further cooperation in areas of connectivity, defence and cultural contacts.
  • They agreed on a) Round-Table on Energy and Connectivity, b) Joint Working Groups at senior official level on Afghanistan and use of Chabahar Port, c) Showcasing of Buddhist exhibitions in Central Asian countries, d) Joint counter-terrorism exercises and e) Visit of 100 member youth delegation annually from Central Asian countries to India.
  • Trade: They discussed the possibilities of increasing Indian trade with the Central Asia region beyond the currently low levels of about $2 billion. Turkmenistan President stressed on the importance of the TAPI gas pipeline project that runs from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India.
  • The situation in Afghanistan: They discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan. The leaders reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 passed in 2021 which unequivocally demanded that Afghan territory not be used for terrorist acts and called for concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

European Union’s reactionon China –Lithiania tension

  • Recently, the European Union launched action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for targeting Lithuania over its stance on Taiwan.
  • In November 2021, a Taiwanese Representative Office was opened in Lithuania, notable because it is for the first time that Taiwan was allowed to use its own name to open an office within the EU.
  • Following this, China has downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania, calling it a violation of the “One China Policy”. China has also unofficially boycotted products from Lithuania, whether it is sourced directly or indirectly from the country.
  • China alleges that Lithuania is acting in concert with the American efforts of containment by using the Taiwan card, and to spread discord between China and Europe.
  • One China Policy’ means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa.

Nord Stream  pipeline

  • Recently, the US has said it will stop the Nord Stream if Russia attacks Ukraine.
  • Nord Stream, the longest subsea pipeline, is an export gas pipeline which runs under the Baltic Sea carrying gas from Russia to Europe.
  • Nord Stream consists of two pipelines, which have two lines each.
  • Nord Stream 1 was completed in 2011 and runs from Vyborg in Leningrad (Russia) to Lubmin near Greifswald, Germany.
  • Nord Stream 2 which runs from Ust-Luga in Leningrad to Lubmin was completed in September 2021 and has the capacity to handle 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year once it becomes operational.
  • The twin pipelines together can transport a combined total of 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year to Europe for at least 50 years.

India-Oman

  • The Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence of the Sultanate of Oman is on a visit to India.
  • He will be in Delhi to co-chair the Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMCC) with India’s Defence Secretary.
  • The JMCC is the highest forum of engagement between India and Oman in the field of defence.
  • The JMCC is expected to meet annually, but could not be organised since 2018 when the meeting of the 9th JMCC was held in Oman.
  • Military Exercises between India and Oman:
    • Army exercise: Al Najah
    • Air Force exercise: Eastern Bridge
    • Naval Exercise: Naseem Al Bahr

2nd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting

  • The 2nd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting with India was held on a virtual platform.

What is ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN)?

  • ADGMIN is an annual meeting of Telecom Ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries and dialogue partner countries – Australia, Canada, China, EU, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, UK and US.

What are the key outcomes of the 2nd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting with India?

  • The meeting discussed and deliberated various matters relevant to strengthening regional digital cooperation in the spirit of digital inclusion and integration.
  • They approved the India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2022. The work plan includes:
    • System for combating the use of stolen and counterfeit mobile handsets
    • WiFi Access network interface for nationwide public internet
    • capacity building and knowledge sharing in emerging areas in the field of Information and Communication Technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, Advanced Satellite Communication, Cyber Forensics among others.

GOVERNANCE

Increased Election Expenditure Limit

  • Election Commission has raised the expenditure limit of candidates to Rs 95 lakh (up from Rs 70 lakh) each for Lok Sabha elections, and up to Rs 40 lakh (up from Rs 28 lakh) for Assembly polls. Similarly, for smaller states the new limit for Assembly polls is Rs 28 lakh, up from Rs 20 lakh.
  • The enhanced amount of Rs 40 lakh would apply in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab and ₹28 lakh in Goa and Manipur.

What is meant by election expenditure limit?  

  • Expenditure limit refers to the amount a candidate is allowed to legally spend on election campaigning, including public meetings, rallies, advertisements, posters and banners, and vehicles.
  • All candidates are required to submit their expenditure statement to the EC within 30 days of completion of an election.
  • There is no limit on how much a political party can spend on elections, but they have to submit a statement of their expenditure to the EC within 90 days of completion of the elections.
  • The money spent on star campaigners is credited to the party’s account rather than the candidate. What are the reasons for the revision of the election expense?  
  • Rise in number of electors: Number of total voters in the country has increased from 834 million in 2014 to 936 million now.
  • This means that each candidate is covering a much larger group of electors.
  • Cost Inflation Index (CFI)– has gone up from ‘240’ in FY 2014-15 to ‘317’ in current FY. o        CFI is used is used to estimate the increase in the prices of goods and assets year-by-year due to inflation.
  • EC had also set up a committee in 2020, comprising retired IRS officer Harish Kumar, and other senior officers of the election commission to consider the change in the expense limits.

What are the legal provisions regarding election expenditure?  

  • Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951 mentions that every candidate must keep an account of all expenditure incurred from the date on which they are nominated to the date of declaration of the result.
  • Section 10A of the Act also states that an incorrect account or expenditure beyond the cap can lead to disqualification of a candidate for up to three years.

POSH) Act, 2013 challlenged in Supreme court

  • Recently, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging guidelines issued by the Bombay High Court in cases under the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act, 2013.

Why the guidelines related to posh act challenged ?

  • The guidelines prohibits involving parties and advocates from sharing records, including orders and judgments (related to sexual harassment of women) with the media.
  • The guidelines were formed by Justice G.S. Patel of the Bombay High Court ostensibly to protect the identities of the parties in a case under the POSH Act.

Arguments of the Petitioner:

  • Against Spirit of Article 19: The petitioner argued that a blanket bar is against the freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19. The petition said a well-informed citizenry governs itself better. Right to free speech can be curbed only if it interferes with the administration of justice.

India Skills

  • It is the India’s biggest skill competition concluded recently. It is designed to demonstrate the highest standards of skilling and offers a platform to young people to showcase their talent at national and international levels.
  • The competition is held every two years with the support of state governments and industry.
  • 30 states and Union Territories (UTs) participated in the competition and showcased their skills in 54 skills, including seven new-age ones, in 2021. Odisha topped the chart followed by Maharashtra and Kerala. The winners of IndiaSkills 2021 Nationals will get a chance to represent the country at WorldSkills International Competition to be held in Shanghai, China in October 2022.
  • Skill areas include beauty therapy, cyber security, floristry, robot system integration, cloud computing, water technology, painting and decorating, health and social care, among others.
  • Nodal Agency: National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), working under the guidance of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). NSDC has been leading India’s participation at the WorldSkills International competitions since 2011.

Revision of SOP for Integrity Pact

  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has revised the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for adopting and implementing the Integrity Pact. What is Integrity Pact?
  • The ‘Integrity Pact’ envisages an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, committing persons and officials of both sides to not resort to any corrupt practices in any aspect or stage of the contract.
  • Any violation of the clause entails the disqualification of bidders and exclusion from future business dealings. The pact also ensures transparency, equity and competitiveness in public procurement.

Independent External Monitors (IEMS)

  • The changes are expected to provide a larger pool of Independent External Monitors (IEMS) for examining government contracts.
  • IEMs are appointed by the apex vigilance body (CVC)to look into issues relating to the execution of the contract(s) and any irregularities.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Revision

  • IEMs will only be picked from a panel of eminent persons/officers who have held the post of additional secretary or equivalent or any other position at a higher pay scale in the government of India at the time of retirement.
  • Existing rules, issued in June 2021, only considered officials at the rank of secretary to the government of India, chief secretaries in the states or officials at equivalent pay scale at the time of retirement.
  • This change will provide a larger pool of officers retired from various government departments who can be appointed IEMs in case there is a shortage of officers.
  • The latest SOP has also removed retired director generals of police from the list of eminent persons to be considered for IEMs.
  • For retired armed officers, too, only those officers equivalent to the ranks of additional secretaries or higher in the government of India will now be eligible to become IEMs.
  • Earlier, this was allowed only for officers on the apex pay scale.
  • Persons who have held the post of CMD/MD or CEO of public sector banks, insurance companies, and other state-owned financial institutions at the time of retirement will continue to be included in the list of IEMs. About Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
  • It is an apex body for the prevention of corruption and exercising general superintendence over vigilance administration.
  • It was set up by the Government of India (Ministry of Home Affairs) vide Resolution in 1964 on the recommendation of the Santhanam Committee.
  • It is an independent body and is only responsible to the Parliament.
  • The Parliament enacted Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (CVC Act) conferring statutory status on the CVC.
  • The Central Vigilance Commissioner shall hold office for a term of four years from the date on which he enters upon his office or till he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.
  • The Central Vigilance Commissioner on ceasing to hold the office shall be ineligible for reappointment in the commission.

POLITY (Articles or Sections in News)

Prohibition of Alcohol

  • Recently, the Bihar Government has decided to use Drones to monitor illegal liquor manufacturing. Constitutional Provisions:
  • Article 47: The Directive Principle in the Constitution of India states that “The state shall undertake rules to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health”.
  • State Subject: Alcohol is a subject in the State list under the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • Several Prohibition Acts in India : Bombay Abkari Act, 1878, Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949, Bihar Prohibition Act, 2016.
  • Note : Presently Alcohol prohibition in India is in force in the states of Gujarat, Bihar, Mizoram, Nagaland as well as in the union territory of Lakshadweep

Arguments against Prohibition of Liquor:

  • The Right of Privacy has been held as a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in several judgments since 2017.
  • Aggravate the Sense of Violence: Most of the domestic violence crimes against women and children are committed as a consequence of liquor consumption..
  • Tax revenues from alcohol is a major part of any government’s revenues. These enable the government to finance several public welfare schemes. Absence of these revenues may severely impacts state’s ability to run public welfare programmes.
  • Source of Employment: Today, the Indian Made Foreign Liquors (IMFL) industry contributes over 1 lakh crore in taxes every year. It supports the livelihood of lakhs of farming families and provides direct and indirect employment to lakhs of workers employed in the industry.

Arguments in Favour of Liquor Prohibition :

  • Impact on Livelihoods: Alcohol denudes family resources and reserves and leaves women and children as its most vulnerable victims. A social stigma at least as far as the family unit is concerned is still attached to the consumption of alcohol.
  • Discourage Regular Consumption: Strict state regulation is imperative to discourage regular and excessive consumption of alcohol. As the prohibition is mentioned in the State List under Schedule Seven, it is the duty of the state to make provisions related to prohibition.Way Forward
  • Between issues such as morality, prohibition or freedom of choice, there are also factors like economy, jobs, etc, which cannot be ignored. What is required is an informed and constructive dialogue on the causes and effects.
  • Policy makers should focus on framing laws which encourage responsible behavior and compliance.
  • Drinking age should be made uniform across the country and no person below that should be permitted to buy alcohol.
  • Tough laws should be made against drunken behaviour in public, domestic violence under influence, and drinking and driving.
  • The governments should set aside part of revenue earned from alcohol for social education, de-addiction, and community support.

AFSPA Extended in Nagaland for 6 more months

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 has been extended in Nagaland for six months from 30th December 2021.

What is AFSPA

  • The ASFPA gives unrestricted powers to the armed forces and the Central armed police forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law and arrest and search any premises without a warrant and with protection from prosecution and legal suits.
  • The law first came into effect in 1958 to deal with the uprising in the Naga Hills, followed by the insurgency in Assam.Disturbed Areas:
  • The Act was amended in 1972 and the powers to declare an area as “disturbed” were conferred concurrently upon the Central government along with the States.
  • Currently, the Union Home Ministry issues periodic “disturbed area” notification to extend AFSPA only for Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The notification for Manipur and Assam is issued by the State governments.
  • Tripura revoked the Act in 2015 and Meghalaya was under AFSPA for 27 years, until it was revoked by the MHA from 1st April 2018.
  • Jammu and Kashmir has a separate J&K Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990.

Controversy Around the Act:

  • Human Rights Violations: The law empowers security personnel, down to non-commissioned officers, to use force and shoot “even to the causing of death” if they are convinced that it is necessary to do so for the “maintenance of public order”. It also grants soldiers executive powers to enter premises, search, and arrest without a warrant. The exercise of these extraordinary powers by armed forces has often led to allegations of fake encounters and other human rights violations by security forces in disturbed areas while questioning the indefinite imposition of AFSPA in certain states, such as Nagaland and J&K.
  • Justice B P Jeevan Reddy Committee (November 2004) recommended that AFSPA should be repealed and appropriate provisions should be inserted in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
  • The 5th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) on public order has also recommended the repeal of the AFSPA.
  • Supreme Court Views on the Act: The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of AFSPA in a 1998 judgment (Naga People’s Movement of Human Rights v. Union of India).

Article 348 of Constitution of India

  • In news: Recently, the Gujarat High Court has asked a journalist facing contempt of court proceedings to speak only in English as that was the language in the higher judiciary.
  • Article 348(1)(a) states that unless Parliament by law provides otherwise, all proceedings before the Supreme Court and in every High Court shall be conducted in English.
  • Article 348(2) provides further that notwithstanding the provisions of Article 348(1), the Governor of a state may, with the previous consent of the President, authorise the use of Hindi or any other language used for any official purpose, in proceedings in the High Court.
    • States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have already authorised the use of Hindi in proceedings before their respective high courts and taking a cue, Tamil Nadu is also working in that direction – to authorise the use of Tamil before its high court.
  • A further provision states that nothing in this clause would apply to any judgement, decree, or order made by the High Court.Therefore, the Constitution recognizes English as the primary language of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, with the rule that : when some other language is used in the proceedings of High Courts, judgments of the High Courts must be delivered in English.

Vulnerable witnesses  : Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) expanded the meaning of vulnerable witnesses to also include among others sexual assault victims, those with mental illness and people with speech or hearing impairment.

Transgender Persons in Indian Prisons

  • Recently, the Union Home Ministry sent an advisory to Heads of Prisons in the States/UTs to ensure privacy, dignity of the third gender inmates.
  • According to a National Crime Records Bureau, there were 70 transgender prisoners in jails across the country in 2020.
  • The advisory was issued in light of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, which came into effect from January 2020.

Demand of ‘Criminalising’ marital rape

  • Recently, a batch of petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape, has been filled in the Delhi High Court.
  • In response to it the Union government has replied that it is considering a “constructive approach” towards criminalising it and had sought suggestions from various stakeholders.
  • Marital Rape Exception: Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which exempts forceful sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife from the offence of rape, provided the wife is above 15 years of age, also known as the “marital rape exception”.

Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954

  • In news : Recently, the law that governs inter-faith marriages in the country, the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954, is being challenged in the Supreme Court.
  • In 2021, petitions were filed to strike down several of its provisions.

The Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954

  • It is the legislation made to validate and register interreligious and inter-caste marriages in India.
  • It allows two individuals to solemnise their marriage through a civil contract.
  • No religious formalities are needed to be carried out under the Act.
  • This Act includes Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists marriages.
  • This Act applies not only to Indian citizens who belong to different castes and religions but also to Indian nationals who live abroad.

About the Current Petition

  • Section 5 of the SMA requires a person marrying under this law to give a 30 days notice of intended marriage. (The provision of mandatory 30 days’ notice period ended up giving vigilante groups, families hostile to inter-faith and intercaste unions with disproportionate powers to police young couples.
  • Section 6(2) says it should be affixed at a conspicuous place at the office of the marriage officer.
  • Section 7(1) allows any person to object to the marriage within 30 days of the publication of the notice, failing which a marriage can be solemnised under Section 7(2).
  • Due to these provisions breaching personal liberties, several inter-faith couples approached the Court, challenging Sections 6 and 7 of the Act.

NCSK : National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the tenure of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) for three years beyond 31st March, 2022.

NCSK : The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 to give its recommendations to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis. The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 29th February, 2004. After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a nonstatutory body from time to time through resolutions.

Supreme court’s ruling on 12 BJP MLAs’ one-year suspension in Maharashtra

  • The Supreme Court has set aside the one-year suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

What is the case about?

  • The 12 BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly were suspended for misbehaviour in the Assembly. The MLAs challenged the suspension mainly on grounds of denial of the principles of natural justice and of violation of laiddown procedure. They have also said that the suspension was against Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules 53.
Note: Rule 53 empowers the Speaker to maintain order in the House by suspending MLA in a graded manner. The period of suspension can be increased with every successive incident of misconduct but never beyond the remainder of the ongoing session.

What were the arguments given by the Maharashtra Assembly?

  • Firstly, the house had acted within its legislative competence under Article 212 and courts do not have jurisdiction to inquire into the proceedings of the legislature.
  • Note: Article 212 (1) states that “The validity of any proceedings in the Legislature of a State shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure”.
  • Secondly, the state had also said that a seat does not automatically become vacant if the member does not attend the House for 60 days, but it becomes vacant only if declared so by the House.

Thirdly, the state has also referred to Article 194 on the powers and privileges of the House and argued that any member who transgresses these privileges can be suspended through the inherent powers of the House. It has denied that the power to suspend a member can be exercised only through Rule 53 of the Assembly.

What were the arguments given by the Supreme Court while delivering the judgment?

  • Against Rule 53: The court said that the suspension has to follow the procedure laid down in Rule 53 It said that the suspension of a member must be preferred as a short term or a temporary, disciplinary measure for restoring order in the Assembly. Anything in excess of that would be irrational suspension.
  • Violates Basic Democratic Values: The suspension beyond the ongoing session is violative of basic democratic values, as it would mean the constituency the member represents in the House would remain unrepresented.
  • A suspension could be used to manipulate opposition: A thin majority coalition government could use such suspensions to manipulate the number of Opposition party members and that Opposition will not be able to effectively participate in discussions/debates in the House fearing suspension of its members for a longer period.
  • No Complete Immunity from Judicial Review: The court considered whether the legislature had complete immunity from judicial review in matters of irregularity of procedure. It ruled that procedures are open to judicial review on the touchstone of being unconstitutional, grossly illegal, irrational or arbitrary.

31-member Panel to review on the proposal of legal age of Girl’s marriage

  • The parliamentary standing committee constituted to examine “The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021”. The Bill seeks to raise the legal age of marriage for women in India from 18 to 21 to bring it at par with men.
  • The committee is headed by senior BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.
  • TMC MP Sushmita Dev is the sole woman representative in the committee.

ECONOMY NEWS 

First Advance Estimates for GDP

  • Recently, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) released the First Advance Estimates (FAE) for the current financial year (2021-22).
  • According to MoSPI, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow by 9.2% in 2021-22.

What is First Advance Estimates of GDP ?

  • The FAE, first introduced in 2016-17, are typically published at the end of the first week of January.
  • They are the “first” official estimates of how GDP is expected to grow in that financial year.
  • Apart from it, they are also the “advance” estimates because they are published long before the financial year (April to March) is over.
  • The FAE is published soon after the end of the third quarter or Q3 (October, November, December).
  • However, they do not include the formal Q3 GDP data, which is published at the end of February as part of the Second Advance Estimates (SAE).
  • Significance: The main significance of FAE lies in the fact that they are the GDP estimates that the Union Finance Ministry uses to decide the next financial year’s budget allocations.

Increasing India’s Trade with China

  • India’s trade with China in 2021 crossed USD125 billion with imports from China nearing a record USD100 billion, underlining continued demand for a range of Chinese goods, particularly machinery.
  • This is when the relations hit a new low due to the prolonged standoff by the militaries in eastern Ladakh. India’s Biggest Exports to China:
  • India’s biggest exports to China in recent years were iron ore, cotton and other raw material-based commodities, which have seen a recovery in demand in China last year (2021). India’s Biggest Imports from China:
  • India has imported large quantities of electrical and mechanical machinery, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), auto components and, over the past two years, a range of medical supplies from oxygen concentrators to Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs).
  • The trade deficit for India with China grew to USD 69.38 billion in 2021 (as we import more and export less to china).
  • Growth in Bilateral Trade: The 43% year-on-year growth in bilateral trade with India was among the highest among China’s major trading partners.

Steps taken to Counter Dependence on China:

  • Ban on Chinese apps.
  • Increasing scrutiny of Chinese investments in many sectors, and a decision to keep Chinese companies out of 5G trials.
  • The government has also made its prior approval mandatory for foreign investments from countries that share land border with India to curb “opportunistic takeovers” of domestic firms – a move which will restrict FDI from China.
  • To cut import dependency on China for APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients), the government in March, 2020 approved a package comprising four schemes with a total outlay of Rs. 13,760 crore to boost domestic production of bulk drugs and medical devices in the country along with their exports.
  • In 2020, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry identified 12 sectors – to make India a global supplier and cut import bills. These sectors are food processing, organic farming, iron, aluminium and copper, agro chemicals, electronics, industrial machinery, furniture, leather and shoes, auto parts, textiles, and coveralls, masks, sanitisers and ventilators.

Infusion of funds in IREDA

  • Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the infusion of Rs 1,500 crore in the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA).
  • This will enable IREDA to lend Rs 12,000 crore to the renewable energy sector.

Air India formally handed over to Tata Group

  • The government of India officially handed over India’s flag carrier, Air India to the Tata Group on January 27, 2022, almost 69 years after acquiring the conglomerate. The total value of the deal is Rs 18,000 crore (US$2.4 billion).
  • The strategic disinvestment transaction of Air India includes the transfer of a 100 per cent stake of GoI in Air India to Tata Sons, along with management control.
  • The transaction covers three entities namely, Air India, Air India Express and Air India SATS (AI SATS). Under the deal, the Tata group will also be handed over Air India Express and a 50 per cent stake in ground handling arm AI SATS.

AGRICULTURE 

“Sweet Kranti” (Sweet Revolution)

  • Recently, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched the country’s first Mobile Honey Processing Van at Village in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Mobile Honey Processing Van that will process beekeepers’ honey at their doorsteps and thus save them the hassle and the cost of taking the honey to processing plants in far off cities for processing.
  • This initiative is taken in pursuance of “Sweet Kranti” (Sweet Revolution).
  • About KVIC : KVIC is a statutory body established under the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act, 1956. It functions under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

HISTORY, ART AND CULTURE 

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

  • PM Modi unveils a grand hologram statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at India Gate to commemorate his 125th birth anniversary and as part of the year long celebrations. “Soon, the hologram statue will be replaced by a grand granite statue.
  • The original statue, the digital version of which was unveiled today at the India Gate, was sculpted by Awaita Gadanayak, the director-general of the National Gallery of Modern Art.
  • Note : The hologram statue has been installed at the India Gate canopy, which once housed the statue of King George V, the imperial icon of the country that Netaji fought all his life.
  • Note : This is the first time that India is beginning Republic Day celebrations from January 23 instead of January 24, to include the birth anniversary of late freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. It will end on January 30, the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
  • The Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskars, for the years 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 in the investiture ceremony were also conferred.

Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar

  • The annual Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar has been instituted to recognize and honour the invaluable contribution and selfless service rendered by individuals and organisations in India in the field of disaster management.
  • The award is announced every year on 23rd January.
  • It carries a cash prize of Rs. 51 lakh and a certificate in case of an institution and 5 lakh and a certificate in case of an individual. About SC Bose
  • Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23rd January 1897, in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Dutt Bose and Janakinath Bose. His Jayanti is celebrated as ‘Parakram Diwas’ on 23rd January. He took part in the freedom struggle ranging from his association with INC to the formation of Azad Hind Fauz. His political mentor was Chittaranjan Das. He is said to have died in 1945 when his plane crashed in Taiwan.

Tipu Sultan

  • Recently, naming a playground on Tipu Sultan in Mumbai sparked a controversy.
    Brief Profile of Tipu Sulan : Born in November 1750, Tipu Sultan was Haidar Ali’s son and a great warrior, also known as the Tiger of Mysore.
  • He was a well educated man fluent in Arabic, Persian, Kanarese and Urdu.
  • Mysore had grown in strength under the leadership of powerful rulers like Haidar Ali (ruled from 1761 to 1782) and his famous son Tipu Sultan (ruled from 1782 to 1799).
  • Tipu introduced a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including his coinage, a new Mauludi lunisolar calendar, and a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of Mysore silk industry.
  • Embracing western military methods like artillery and rockets alongside traditional Indian weapons including war elephants, he ensured his forces could overwhelm his Indian rivals and match the British armies sent against him.

Maintenance of Armed Forces:

  • He organised his army on the European model with Persian words of command.
  • Though he took the help of the French officers to train his soldiers, he never allowed them (French) to develop into a pressure group.
  • He was well aware of the importance of a naval force.
  • In 1796, he set up a Board of Admiralty and planned for a fleet of 22 battleships and 20 large frigates.
  • He established three dockyards at Mangalore, Wajedabad and Molidabad. However, his plans did not fructify.

Fought Against Marathas:

  • In 1767, Tipu commanded a corps of cavalry against the Marathas in the Carnatic (Karnataka) region of western India, and he fought against the Marathas on several occasions between 1775 and 1779.

Role in Anglo-Mysore Wars:

  • The British saw Haidar and Tipu as ambitious, arrogant and dangerous – rulers who had to be controlled and crushed.
    Four wars were fought between British and Mysore.

    • 1767-69: Treaty of Madras.
    • 1780-84: Treaty of Mangalore.
    • 1790-92: Treaty of Seringapatam.
    • 1799: Subsidiary Alliance.
  • Only in the last – the Battle of Seringapatam – did the Company ultimately win a victory. Tipu Sultan was killed defending his capital Seringapatam.
  • Mysore was placed under the former ruling dynasty of the Wodeyars and a subsidiary alliance was imposed on the state. Other Related Points:
  • He was also a patron of science and technology and is credited as the ‘pioneer of rocket technology’ in India.
  • He wrote a military manual (Fathul Mujahidin) explaining the operation of rockets.
  • Tipu was a great lover of democracy and a great diplomat who gave his support to the French soldiers at Seringapatam in setting up a Jacobin Club in 1797.
  • Tipu himself became a member of the Jacobin Club and allowed himself to be called Citizen Tipu.  He planted the Tree of Liberty at Seringapatam.

216-foot statue of Saint Ramanujacharya : Hydrabad

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 216-foot statue of Ramanujacharya in a sitting position in Hyderabad on February 5, 2022, to celebrate the 1,000th birth anniversary of the saint.
  • Ramanujacharya was an 11th-century saint and a revolutionary social reformer who promoted the idea of equality in all aspects of living including faith, caste and creed.  . The statue will be called as the ‘Statue of Equality’.
  • The Statue of Equality is the world’s second-tallest statue in a sitting position. The Buddha statue in Thailand is considered as the world’s tallest statue in a sitting pose.

Chakmas and Hajongs trbies

  • Mizoram and Tripura have a sizeable population of the Buddhist Chakmas while the Hindu Hajongs mostly inhabit the Garo Hills of Meghalaya and adjoining areas of Assam.
  • The Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh are migrants from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Displaced by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s, they sought asylum in India and were settled in relief camps in the southern and south-eastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh from 1964 to 1969. A majority of them live in the Changlang district  Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Why in news : Arunachal Govt plans to conduct a census of both communities residing in Arunachal Pradesh. But the Committee for Citizenship Rights of Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCHAP) stated that Chakmas and Hajongs will not cooperate with any census being taken on them.
  • Why they are against this census : Members of the two communities have allegedly been victims of hate crime, police atrocities and denial of rights and beneficiary programmes. So they think that this census is part of a plan to relocate them out of state.

APPOINTMENTS

Urjit Patel

  • Recently, former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel has been appointed vice-president of the Beijingbased Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
  • About AIIB : It was established in 2015 with Hq in Beijing. China is its biggest shareholder and India is the second

S. Somanath

  • Recently, S. Somanath, an eminent rocket scientist has been appointed as the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Space Secretary.
  • He is fourth Keralite (from Kerela) to occupy the topmost post in the Indian space sector.
  • He succeeds K. Sivan (who was given a year’s extension).

Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas  (French-born economist )

  • He has been named as the next chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • He will succeed Gita Gopinath, the first woman to serve as the Fund’s chief economist.  He will take over as first deputy managing director of IMF from January 21 2022.

Dr V Anantha Nageswaran   : Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India.

Roberta Metsola : a Christian Democrat from Malta, was elected president of the European Union’s parliament.  Dileep Sanghani  :  Chairman of IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative).

VS Pathania :  Director-General of Indian Coast Guard.

Zhang Ming   : China’s senior diplomat becomes  new Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Haitham Al Ghais : new secretary-general of OPEC.

Ayesha Malik   : first woman judge of the Pakistan’s Supreme Court. Alikhan Smailov :  new Prime Minister of Kazakhstan

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Omisure Kit

  • Recently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved a made-in-India testing kit, named Omisure, for detecting the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This RT-PCR kit is manufactured by Tata Medical and Diagnostics. It uses S-Gene Target Failure (SGTF)
  • Note : The kit currently in use to detect Omicron in the country has been developed by the US-based scientific instrumentation company Thermo Fisher. SaaRthi Mobile App launched by SEBI
  • Recently, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has launched Saa₹thi – a mobile app on investor education. ‘R’ represents ‘₹’.
  • It aims to create awareness among investors about the basic concepts of the securities market.
  • The app will also explain about KYC process, trading and settlement, Mutual Funds (MF), recent market developments, investor grievances redressal mechanism, etc.

DEFENCE 

Sea Dragon 22 Exercise

  • Recently, the US Sea Dragon 22 exercise began along with the navies of India, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Note : India, Japan, Australia and the US are also part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), and also participate in the Malabar exercise.

PASSEX Exercise : India- Russia

  • Recently, India’s INS Kochi and Russian ships engaged in the international Passage Exercise (PASSEX).
  • What is Passex exercise : A passage exercise (Passex) is normally undertaken whenever an opportunity arises, in opposite to pre-planned maritime drills.
  • Note : Earlier, Indian Naval ships conducted PASSEX with the US Navy also.

Other important defense exercises :

  • ‘Zayed Talwar: It is a bilateral naval exercise between the Indian and UAE
  • ‘Al-Mohed Al-Hindi’: India and Saudi Arabia started their first-ever Naval joint exercise.

CHIRU-2Q22  :

  • The Russian, Chinese and Iranian navies undertook naval exercises CHIRU-2Q22 in the Gulf of Oman.

Paschim Lehar (XPL-2022)  :  

  • A joint maritime exercise conducted by the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy  off the West Coast.

Advance Version of BrahMos

  • Recently, an extended range sea-to-sea variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was test fired from stealth guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam.
  • BrahMos is a joint collaboration between India and Russia.

About Advance Variant:

  • The BrahMos missile was initially developed with a range capped at 290 km.
  • The range of the missile was originally capped at 290 km as per obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • However, following India’s entry into the MTCR club in June 2016, the range is planned to be extended to 450 km and to 600km at a later stage.

Relocating the Amar Jawan Jyoti to National War Memorial

  • In a historic move, Amar Jawan Jyoti merged with the National War Memorial flame. Amar Jawan Jyoti:
  • Established in 1972, it was to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
  • The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated it on Republic Day 1972, after India defeated Pakistan in December 1971.
  • The eternal flame at the Amar Jawan Jyoti underneath India Gate in central Delhi was an iconic symbol of the nation’s tributes to the soldiers who have died for the country in various wars and conflicts since Independence.
  • The India Gate memorial was built by the British government in memory of the British Indian Army soldiers who lost their lives between 1914-1921.

Reasons for the Relocation:

  • The names inscribed on the India Gate are of only some martyrs who fought for the British in World War 1 and the Anglo Afghan War & thus is a symbol of our colonial past.
  • The names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including “1971 and wars before and after it are housed at the National War Memorial.

National War Memorial:

  • Inaugurated in 2019, it is around 400 meters from India Gate.
  • The layout of the structure comprises four concentric circles, named: the “Amar Chakra” or Circle of Immortality, the “Veerta Chakra” or Circle of Bravery, the “Tyag Chakra” or Circle of Sacrifice and the “Rakshak Chakra” or Circle of Protection.
  • The proposal for a National War Memorial was first made in the 1960s.
  • The memorial is dedicated to soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation during the Sino-Indian war in 1962, Indo-Pak wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil Conflict in 1999.
  • The National War Memorial also commemorates the soldiers who participated and made supreme sacrifices in United Nations peace-keeping missions, Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, counterinsurgency operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Operations (LICO).

RANKING AND REPORTS 

Faecal sludge and septage management

According to the NITI Aayog report Faecal sludge and septage management in urban areas, Service and business models, by 2021 more than 700 cities / towns are in various stages of Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) implementation.

CAG’s report on Gandhisagar dam

  • According to a new Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report, Gandhi Sagar Dam on Chambal River (Madhya Pradesh) is in need of immediate repair.
  • Gandhi Sagar Dam was constructed in 1960 to provide drinking water to several districts of Rajasthan and generate 115 megawatts of electricity.
  • Note : India is ranked third in the world in terms of building large

Report by IHS Markit

  • According to the Information Handling Services (IHS) Markit report, India is likely to overtake Japan as Asia’s second-largest economy by 2030.
  • Currently, India is the sixth-largest economy, behind the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and the U.K.
  • IHS Markit is a global leader in information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide.
  • Note: The size of a nation’s overall economy is typically measured by its Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, which is the value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given year.

Global Risks Report 2022

  • Recently, the Global Risks Report 2022, an annual report, was released by the World Economic Forum. It tracks global risk perceptions among risk experts and world leaders in business, government, and civil society.
  • It examines risks across five categories: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological.

Henley Passport Index 2022

  • India has been ranked 83rd in the most powerful passport report ‘Henley Passport Index 2022’.
  • India’s passport power has improved this quarter compared to 2021 climbing seven places from 90th rank last year.  The current rankings are for the first quarter of 2022.
  • About the Index: The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
  • Note : Japan and Singapore top the index. Germany and South Korea held onto the joint second spot on the latest ranking, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain shared third place.
  • Afghanistan and Iraq continue to be in the ‘worst passports to hold’ category.

“Inequality Kills’’

Recently, the Oxfam report titled “Inequality Kills’’ was released, the report pointed out a stark income divide worsened by the Covid pandemic, globally and in India.

GRAM  Report on AMR

  • According to the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) report, 27 million people died in 2019 as a direct result of AMR (AntiMicrobial Resistance).
  • The death due to AMR is now a leading cause of death worldwide, higher than HIV/AIDS or malaria.
  • Most of the deaths from AMR were caused by lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, and bloodstream infections, which can lead to sepsis.
  • MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) was particularly deadly, while E. coli, and several other bacteria, were also linked to high levels of drug resistance.

Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021

  • Recently, the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021 was released by Transparency International.
  • Overall, the CPI shows that control of corruption has stagnated or worsened in 86% of countries over the last decade.
  • Note : Transparency International is an international non -governmental organisation founded in 1993 based in Berlin, Germany.
  • Top performers: This year, the top countries are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, each with a score of 88.
  • Bottom Performers: South Sudan (11), Syria (13) and Somalia (13) remain at the bottom of the index.
  • India’s Performance: India ranked 85 among 180 countries in the current index (86 in 2020 and 80 in 2019). Transparency International gave India a CPI score of 40. Except Bhutan, all of India’s neighbours are ranked below it.

SCHEMES and Programmes in News 

The Union Education Minister has launched National Educational Alliance for Technology(NEAT 3.0) and AICTEprescribed technical books in regional languages What is NEAT?

  • The National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) is a Public-Private Partnership model between the Government (through its implementing agency AICTE) and the Education Technology companies of India.
  • It is an initiative to provide the use of best-developed technological solutions in the education sector to enhance the employability of the youth on a single platform for learners’ convenience.
  • These solutions use Artificial Intelligence for a personalized and customized learning experience for better learning outcomes and skill development in the niche areas.
  • AICTE, Ministry of Education(MoE) is acting as the facilitator in the process. The ministry will also ensure that the solutions are freely available to a large number of socially and economically backward students.

What is NEAT 3.0?

  • It is a single platform to provide the best-developed ed-tech solutions and courses to students of the country. Why did the AICTE prescribe technical books in regional languages?
  • It was launched as India’s strength lies in its diverse languages, and harnessing them is a key for building an innovative society. Moreover, education in regional languages will further help in developing critical thinking capacity and enable our youth to become global citizens.

‘Padhe Bharat’ : a 100 days reading campaign

  • The Union Education Minister has launched the ‘Padhe Bharat’ campaign.
  • Padhe Bharat is a 100-day reading campaign starting from January 1,2022 to April 10, 2022.
  • Aim: To improve the learning levels of students as it develops creativity, critical thinking, vocabulary and the ability to express both verbally and in writing.It also helps children to relate to their surroundings and real-life situations.
  • The campaign will focus on children studying in Balvatika to Grade 8. It expects the participation of all stakeholders at the national and state level including children, teachers, parents, community, educational administrators among others.
  • Under the campaign, one activity per week per group will be taken up with the focus on making reading enjoyable and building a lifelong association with the joy of reading.
  • The campaign will also focus on Indian languages, including mother tongue/local/regional languages.
  • In this regard, 21st February which is celebrated as International Mother Tongue Day has also been integrated with this campaign. The day will be celebrated with the activity of KahaniPadhoApniBhasa Main (Reading story in own language) across the country by encouraging children to read in their mother tongue/local language. This will help in promoting the local language and culture of our society.

What is the significance of the Padhe Bharat campaign?

  • Firstly, the campaign is in alignment with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which emphasises the promotion of joyful reading culture for children by ensuring the availability of age-appropriate reading books for children in local/mother tongue/regional/tribal Language.
  • Secondly, it has also been aligned with the vision and goals of the foundational Literacy and Numeracy mission.

Draft national air sports policy

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has released a draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP) for public feedback.

What is the purpose of the Draft National Air Sports Policy(NASP)?

  • Aim: To make India one of the top air sports nations by 2030 by providing a safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable air sports ecosystem in India.
  • Coverage: The policy will cover activities like aerobatics, aeromodelling, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, etc.

key features of the Draft National Air Sports Policy (NASP) :

  • The policy proposes a two-tier governance structure for air sports in the country which will include an apex governing body called the Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) and associations for each air sport.
    • ASFI: It will be an autonomous body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It will represent India at the Fédération Aéronaautique Internationale (FAI) and at other events. It will provide governance over various aspects of air sports including regulation, certification, competitions, awards and penalties.
    • Note: FAI headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland is the world governing body for air sports.
    • Associations for each air sport: It will handle day-to-day activities. It will lay down its safety standards for equipment, infrastructure, personnel and training, and specify the disciplinary actions to be taken in case of noncompliance. Inability to do so may lead to penal action by the ASFI.
  • Control Zones: The popular air sports attractions in the country such as Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh, Gangtok in Sikkim, Hadapsar in Maharashtra and Vagamon in Kerala can be declared as a “control zone” for air sports in order to ensure the safety of other manned aircraft.
  • Schools and colleges will be encouraged to include air sports in their curriculum and their students will have the opportunity to participate in the FAI’s international competitions.
  • India aims to attract aerosport enthusiasts from Europe and North America during peak winter as these activities shift to mild climate zones.

Design Linked Incentive for Semiconductors

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information (MeitY) is seeking applications from 100 domestic semiconductor chip design firms, companies, start-ups and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under its Design Linked Incentive (DLI) Scheme.
  • The DLI scheme is part of the MeitY’s comprehensive Program for the Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystems in the country.
  • Under the DLI Scheme financial incentives and design infrastructure support will be extended to domestic companies, startups and MSMEs for over 5 years.
  • Note : there has been an abrupt and cascading shortage of semiconductors worldwide.

SMAM scheme

  • Why in news : Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has issued revised guidelines of the “Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization” (SMAM) scheme in a move aimed at making drones more accessible to the farmers. The funding guidelines will make this technology affordable by assisting in purchase, hiring and demonstrations of agriculture drones. The financial aid and grants shall be applicable till 31st March 2023.
  • SMAM scheme was launched in 2014-15 with the objectives of increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions & difficult areas where farm power availability is low.

BIODIVERSITY AND ENVIRONMENT 

17th ‘India State of Forest Report’ 2021

  • Recently, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change released the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’
  • It is published every two years by the Forest Survey of India under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • The first survey was published in 1987, and ISFR 2021 is the 17th.
  • The ISFR-2021 provides information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock, carbon stock in India’s forests, forest fire monitoring, forest cover in tiger reserve areas, above ground estimates of biomass.

Methodology

  • The survey used mid-resolution Satellite data which is based on interpretation of LISS-III data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II) with a spatial resolution of 23.5 meters with the scale of interpretation 1:50,000 to monitor forest cover and forest cover changes at District, State and National level.
  • The satellite data interpretation is followed by rigorous ground-truthing.

Feature of ISFR 2021

  • In the present ISFR 2021, FSI has included a new chapter related to the assessment of forest cover in the Tiger Reserves, Corridors and Lion conservation area of India. Accuracy :
  • “The accuracy level achieved in the current assessment is significantly high. The accuracy of forest cover classification has been assessed 99%. The accuracy of classification between forest and non-forest classes has been assessed 95.79% against internationally accepted accuracy of classification of more than 85%,”.

Significance

  • the information given in the report would provide valuable information for policy, planning and sustainable management of forest and tree resources in the country. Criticism
  • The survey results could be misleading as it includes plantations – such as coffee, coconuts or mango and other orchards – under forest cover.
  • These plantations are distinctly different from natural forests where one hectare would be home to hundreds of species of trees, plants and fauna, whereas such plantations house only one species of tree

Major Findings of ISFR 2021

  • The total forest and tree cover of the country is 9 million hectares which are 24.62 per cent of the geographical area of the country.
  • As compared to the assessment of 2019, there is an increase of 2,261 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country. (The report found that there had been a 1,540 sq km increase in forest cover and 721 sq km increase in tree cover since the last report in 2019.)
  • Three categories of forests are surveyed – very dense forests (canopy density over 70%), moderately dense forests (4070%) and open forests (10-40%).
  • Scrubs (canopy density less than 10%) are also surveyed but not categorised as forests.
  • An increase in forest cover has been observed in the open forest followed by a very dense forest.
  • Note : The term ‘forest area’ denotes the legal status of the land as per the government records, whereas the term ‘forest cover’ indicates presence of trees over any land.
  • The top three states showing an increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km) followed by Telangana (632 sq km) and Odisha (537 sq km).
  • Areas wise: Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
  • Forest cover as a percentage: In terms of forest cover as a percentage of total geographical area, the top five States are Mizoram (84.53%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%), Meghalaya (76.00%), Manipur (74.34%) and Nagaland (73.90%).
  • 17 states/UT’s have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.
  • The total mangrove cover in the country is 4,992 sq km. An increase of 17 sq Km in mangrove cover has been observed as compared to the previous assessment of 2019.
  • Total carbon stock in the country’s forest is estimated to be 7,204 million tonnes and there is an increase of 79.4 million tonnes in the carbon stock of the country as compared to the last assessment of 2019.
  • The annual increase in carbon stock is 39.7 million tonnes.

Forest fires

  • 46 % of the forest cover is prone to forest fires. Out of this, 2.81 % is extremely prone, 7.85% is very highly prone and 11.51 % is highly prone
  • The forest cover in tiger corridors has increased by 37.15 sq km (0.32%) between 2011-2021 but decreased by 22.6 sq km (0.04%) in tiger reserves.

Concerns

  • Five states in the Northeast – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland have all shown loss in forest cover. It is of great concern as the Northeastern states are repositories of great biodiversity.
  • The loss occurred due to natural calamities, particularly landslides and heavy rains, in the region as well as to anthropogenic activities such as shifting agriculture, the pressure of developmental activities and felling of trees
  • by 2030, 45-64% of forests in India will experience the effects of climate change and rising temperatures, and forests in all states (except Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland) will be highly vulnerable to climate hot spots.

    Governments Policy in this direction National Forest Policy, 1988
  • It aims to ensure environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance including atmospheric equilibrium which is vital for sustenance of all life forms, human, animal and plant.

Cerrado : deforestation

  • Deforestation in 2021 rose to the highest level since 2015 in Brazil’s Cerrado, prompting scientists to raise alarm over the state of the world’s most species-rich savanna.
  • The Cerrado is spread across several states of Brazil and is one of the world’s largest savannas, is often called an “upside-down forest” because of the deep roots its plants sink into the ground to survive seasonal droughts and fires. Cerrado is a major carbon sink that helps to stave off climate change.

Chilika Lake: Odisha

  • As per the water bird status survey-2022 conducted in the Chilika lake, nearly 11 lakhs water bird and wetland dependent species visited the lake.
  • Chilika Lake is the largest brackish water lake and wintering ground of the birds in the Indian subcontinent.

About Chilika Lake:

  • Chilika is Asia’s largest and world’s second largest lagoon.
  • In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • Major attraction at Chilika is Irrawaddy dolphins which are often spotted off Satapada Island.
  • The large Nalabana Island (Forest of Reeds) covering about 16 sq km in the lagoon area was declared a bird sanctuary in 1987.
  • Kalijai Temple – Located on an island in the Chilika Lake.
  • Chilika lake hosts birds migrating from thousands of miles away from the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas.
  • The birds find the vast mud-field and abundant fish stock here suitable to congregate.

Reintroduction of Cheetah

  • Recently, the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has launched the ‘Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’ under which 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next five years.
  • The action plan was launched at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • NTCA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • Last year (2021), the Supreme Court lifted its seven-year-long stay on a proposal to introduce African Cheetahs from Namibia into the Indian habitat.
  • The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal that lives in Africa and Asia ( found in Iran only).

Red Sanders

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) recently categorised the Red Sanders (or Red Sandalwood) again into the ‘endangered’ category in its Red List.
  • It was classified as ‘near threatened’ in 2018.
  • About Red Sanders: The species, Pterocarpus santalinus, is an Indian endemic tree species, with a restricted geographical range in the Eastern Ghats. The species is endemic to a distinct tract of forests in Andhra Pradesh. Red Sanders usually grow in the rocky, degraded and fallow lands with Red Soil and hot and dry climate.
  • Threats: Illicit felling for smuggling, forest fires, cattle grazing and other anthropogenic threats.
  • Red Sanders, known for their rich hue and therapeutic properties, are high in demand across Asia, particularly in China and Japan, for use in cosmetics and medicinal products as well as for making furniture, woodcraft and musical instruments.

Protection Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Endangered.
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule II

Eastern swamp deer

  • Recently, the population of the vulnerable eastern swamp deer has dipped in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (Assam). The eastern swamp deer is extinct elsewhere in South Asia. This decline can be attributed to two high floods in 2019 and 2020.
  • Protection Status of Swamp Deer:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Indian Environment Service

  • Recently, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to establish a dedicated Indian Environment Service (IES) at the all-India level.
  • The creation of IES was recommended by a committee headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian in 2014.

Najafgarh Jheel

  • In news : Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed Delhi and Haryana to enforce the Environment Management Plan (EMP) that the two governments have prepared for the rejuvenation and protection of the Najafgarh Jheel, a transboundary wetland.
  • It is located in a natural depression in southwest Delhi, close to the Gurugram-Rajokri border on National Highway-48.
  • The lake is largely filled with sewage from Gurugram and surrounding villages of Delhi. A portion of the lake falls in Haryana. The presence of 281 bird species, including several threatened ones such as Egyptian vulture, Sarus Crane, Steppe Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle and those migrating along the Central Asian Flyway has been reported at the lake.

Butt rot or basal stem rot of coconut

  • Researchers from Kerala have identified two new species of fungi from the genus Ganoderma that are associated with coconut stem rot disease.
  • The two fungi species are Ganoderma keralense and pseudoapplanatum.
  • The butt rot or basal stem rot of coconut is known by several names in different parts of India: Ganoderma wilt (Andhra Pradesh), Anaberoga (Karnataka) and Thanjavur wilt (Tamil Nadu), to mention a few.
  • The infection begins at the roots, but symptoms include discolouration and rotting of stem and leaves. In the later stages, flowering and nut set decreases and finally the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) dies.

Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)

  • Recently, the officials of Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) estimated that RRTS will reduce CO2 emissions by taking around 1.5 lakh private vehicles off the road.
  • The corridor will start from Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi, pass through Ghaziabad, and reach Modipuram in Meerut (Uttar Pradesh).
  • The RRTS, the first of its kind in the national capital, will run at a speed of 100 km per hour and commuters will reach Meerut in 50-60 minutes.

About RRTS:

  • RRTS is a new, dedicated, high speed, high capacity, comfortable commuter service connecting regional nodes in NCR.
  • RRTS is different from conventional Railway as it will provide reliable, high frequency, point to point regional travel at high speed along dedicated path way.
  • RRTS is different from metro as it caters to passengers looking to travel a relatively longer distance with fewer stops and at higher speed. RRTS is3 times faster than Metro.
RRTS METRO
Design Speed 180 km/hr 90 km /hr
Operation speed 160 km / hr 80 km/hr
Average speed 150 km/hr 32 km/hr
Time taken 100 km – 1 hour 100 km – 3 hour

Septemeranthus : new parasitic flowering plant

  • A new genus (Septemeranthus) of a parasitic flowering plant has recently been discovered from the Nicobar group of islands.
  • Septemeranthus partially depends on its host but also has leaves capable of photosynthesis.  It is endemic only to the Nicobar group of islands.
  • The name Septemeranthus derived from the Latin word ‘septem’ meaning ‘seven’, referring to the arrangement of flowers.

AWARDS NEWS

National Water Awards (NWA) 2020

  • Recently, Uttar Pradesh bagged the first prize for efforts towards water conservation in the National Water Awards (NWA) 2020 organised by the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu bagged the second and third prizes, respectively, in the best state category.
  • District wise : Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh received the best district award in the northern zone followed by Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar in Punjab.
  • Note : The Jal Shakti Ministry had launched the first ‘National Water Award’ in 2018.

24th National Conference on e-Governance (NCeG)

  • It was organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions) and Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), in association with the State Government of Telangana.
  • (DARPG is the nodal agency of the Government of India for administrative reforms as well as redressal of public grievances relating to the states in general and those pertaining to Central Government agencies in particular).
  • At the conference, the ‘Hyderabad Declaration’ on e-Governance was adopted.
  • The declaration aims to bring citizens and governments closer through digital platforms and transform citizen services through the use of technology.
  • Theme: “India’s Techade: Digital Governance in a Post Pandemic World”

National Startup Awards 2021

  • Recently, the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry presented the second edition of National Startup Awards 2021.
  • It was also announced that 16th January (Startup India Initiative was launched on this day in 2016) will be celebrated as National Start-up Day, to take the Startup culture to the far flung areas of the country.

Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar / Subhash Chandra Bose Awards for Disaster Management 2022

  • Institutional category : The Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management /GIDM (established in 2012)
  • Individual category : Professor Vinod Sharma, the founder co-ordinator of the National Centre of Disaster Management.

About the Awards:

  • The central government has instituted this annual award to recognise and honour the invaluable contribution and selfless service rendered by individuals and organisations in India in the field of disaster management.
  • The award is announced every year on 23rd January, the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. It carries a cash prize of 51 lakh and a certificate in the case of an institution and Rs. 5 lakh and a certificate in the case of an individual.

Param Vishisht Seva Medal

  • Olympian Neeraj Chopra will be honoured with Param Vishisht Seva Medal on the eve of Republic Day by President Ram Nath Kovind. He is the first track and field athlete to win a gold medal for India at the Olympics.
  • Neeraj is a Subedar in the Indian Army. He had enrolled in 4 Rajputana Rifles as a direct entry to Naib Subedar in 2016.

Zishaan A Latif

He has been named the winner of the Ramnath Goenka Award in the Photo Journalism category. He documented the plight of people who were dropped from the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Harshaali Malhotra

The 2015 film Bajrangi Bhaijaan fame actress, Harshaali Malhotra has been awarded the 12th Bharat Ratna Dr Ambedkar Award 2022.

79th Golden Globe Awards 2022  (American film & television)

  • Best Film (Drama) : The Power of the Dog
  • Best Film (Musical or Comedy) : West Side Story
  • Best Actor (Drama) : Will Smith for King Richard as Richard Williams
  • Best Actress (Drama) : Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos as Lucille Ball

Padma awards  2022

  • The Padma Awards are announced annually on Republic Day (26th January).
  • Objective: To recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
  • Categories: The Awards are given in three categories:
    • Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service),
    • Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher-order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service).
    • Padma Vibhushan is highest in the hierarchy of Padma Awards followed by Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
  • Disciplines: The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service etc.
  • Note : A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award.
  • Padma Awards Committee: The Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.
  • Awarded by President: The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year.
  • Note : Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian honour of India and then comes Padma Vibhushan, Padam Bhushan and then Padam Shri.
  • In 2022, the President has approved conferment of 128 Padma Awards including 2 duo case (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one) as per list below.
  • The list comprises 4 Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri Awards.
  • 34 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 10 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 13 Posthumous (after death) awardees.

Padma Vibhushan(4)

Name  Field  State / Country
1 Ms. Prabha Atre Art Maharashtra
2 Shri Radheyshyam Khemka (Posthumous) Literature and Education U.P.
3 General Bipin Rawat (Posthumous) Civil Service Uttarakhand
4 Shri Kalyan Singh (Posthumous) Public Affairs Uttar Pradesh

Padma Bhushan ( 17)

  Name  Field  State / Country
1 Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad Public Affairs Jammu and Kashmir
2 Shri Victor Banerjee Art West Bengal
3 Ms. Gurmeet Bawa (Posthumous) Art Punjab
4 Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Public Affairs West Bengal
5 Shri Natarajan Chandrasekaran Trade and Industry Maharashtra
6 Shri Krishna Ella and Smt. Suchitra Ella* (Duo) Trade and Industry Telangana
7 Ms. Madhur Jaffery Others-Culinary USA
8 Shri Devendra Jhajharia Sports Rajasthan
9 Shri Rashid Khan Art Uttar Pradesh
10 Shri Rajiv Mehrishi Civil Service Rajasthan
11 Shri Satya Narayana Nadella Trade and Industry USA
12 Shri Sundararajan Pichai Trade and Industry USA
13 Shri Cyrus Poonawalla Trade and Industry Maharashtra
14 Shri Sanjaya Rajaram (Posthumous) Science and Engineering Mexico
15 Ms. Pratibha Ray Literature and Education Odisha
16 Swami Sachidanand Literature and Education Gujarat
17 Shri Vashishth Tripathi Literature and Education Uttar Pradesh

Padam Shri : awarded to total 107 people.

Neeraj Chopra : Olympic Gold Medalist ( Javelin Throw) is also one among these 107 awardees.

For HP exams : Two distinguished persons from Himachal, Vidyanand Sarek and Lalita Vakil also awarded PadamShri.

Vidyanand Sarek : (got Padam Shri in the field ‘ Litrature & Education’ )

  • The 81-year-old, a popular Pahari litterateur and folk artist belongs to Rajgarh in Sirmaur He has been an important figure in the promotion of the dialect and has dedicated his life to the cause of Sirmauri culture. He has translated 51 poems of Rabindranath Tagore as part of a Central government project received by Chudeshwar Loknritya Mandal, Rajgarh. He is passionate about keeping alive the Sirmauri culture and traditions, rare values, cuisine, etc., for its richness and heritage value.

Lalita Vakil (got Padam Shri in the field ‘ Art’ )

  • She belongs to Sapdi in Chamba and has been working for the promotion of Chamba ‘rumal’ (traditional embroidered handkerchief ) for the past about 50 years.
  • Earlier, she received Nari Shakti award in 2018 from President Ramnath Kovind.

BOOKS  and Auhors

Book Author
“Gandhi’s Assassin: The Making of Nathuram Godse and His Idea of India” Dhirendra K. Jha
“Indomitable: A Working Woman’s Notes on Life, Work and Leadership” autobiography of Arundhati Bhattacharya (retired Indian banker and former first-ever woman Chairperson of the State Bank of India).
“A Little Book of India: Celebrating 75 Years of Independence” Ruskin Bond
“Fearless Governance” Kiran Bedi

OBITUARY / DEATHS

Pandit Munna Shukla Famous Kathak dancer,

  • His contribution to the world of dance was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2006), Sahitya Kala Parishad Award (2003) and the Saraswathi Samman (2011).
Pandit Birju Maharaj Padma Vibhushan awardee legendary Indian Kathak dancer
Vice Admiral S.H. Sarma The Indian Navy’s 1971 Indo-Pak war veteran.
Sindhutai Sapkal a Social worker from Maharashtra, who was called as ‘Mother of Orphans’ or ‘Sindhutai’ or ‘Mai.
Sidney Poitier First black man (Bahamian-American actor)  to win Best Actor Oscar.
David Sassoli President of European Parliament.
Shanti Devi Odisha’s social worker and Padma Shri awardee. She was also called Lugdi Devi.
Toshiki Kaifu Former PM of Japan.
Prof M K Prasad Noted environmentalist & ‘Save Silent Valley’ campaigner.
Narayan Debnath Legendary Bengali comics artist, writer and illustrator.
Major Hari Pal Ahluwalia well-known Professional mountaineer and winner of Arjuna Award, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri & many others.
Milena Salvini Kathakali dancer  of France
Charanjit Singh Former Indian Hockey Team Captain. He was the Captain of the Indian hockey team which won gold in the Tokyo Olympics of 1964.

SPORTS

  • Tamil Nadu’s Bharath Subramaniyam became India’s 73rd chess Grandmaster (Chess champion)..
  • India has lifted the under-19 Asia cricket Cup by defeating Sri Lanka by nine wickets in a rain-interrupted One-Day International final in Dubai through the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
  • South Africa’s wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock has announced his retirement from Test cricket.
  • Veteran New Zealand batter, Ross Taylor has announced retirement from international cricket at the end of the ongoing domestic season.
  • Captain Harpreet Chandi, Indian-origin British Sikh Army officer and physiotherapist, also known as Polar Preet, has created history by becoming the first Indian origin woman to complete a solo unsupported trek to the South Pole.
  • First World Deaf T20 Cricket Championship to be held in Kerala from January 10-20, 2023.
  • Goalkeeper Savita Punia will lead India at the upcoming women’s Asia Cup in Muscat (because regular skipper Rani Rampal is recovering from an injury ).
  • Lucknow’s IPL franchise, which is owned by Sanjiv Goenka (RPSG Group), has been renamed Lucknow Super Giants.
  • Tasnim Mir became the first Indian to grab World no 1 in Under-19 (U-19) Girls Singles category with 10,810 points in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) Junior rankings.

Women’s Asia Cup Hockey 2022 : India got Bronze

  • Japan defeated South Korea 4-2 in the final to win their third title at the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup tournament.
  • Australian Open 2022
  • India defeated China, 2-0 to win the bronze medal at the 2022 Women’s Hockey Asia Cup tournament. The 2022 Women’s Hockey Asia Cup was the 10th edition of the quadrennial Women’s Hockey Asia Cup.
  • The tournament was held from January 21 to 28, 2022 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat, Oman.

Australian Open 2022

  • Rafael Nadal (Spain) has defeated Daniill Medvedev (Russia) to win the Men’s Singles title at the Australian Open 2022. This is his 21st Major title, becoming the first male player to do so.
  • In women’s, World Number 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia defeated Danielle Collins of the US, to win women’s singles final title at the Australian Open 2022.
  • (Note : In women’s tennis, Margaret Court (Australian) has 24 singles majors, an all-time record).

The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021 ( Zurich, Switzerland )

  • Best FIFA Men’s Player : Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
  • Best FIFA Women’s Player : Alexia Putellas (Spain)

ICC Men’s T20I team of the year

  • Pakistani skipper Babar Azam has been named as the captain of the ICC Men’s T20I team of the year for 2021. The ICC Team of the Year recognises the 11 best players in men’s cricket who have impressed one and all with their performances in a calendar year, either with the bat, ball or their all-round performance. No Indian male player has found a place in the team of 11.
  • However, in ICC Women’s T20I Team of the Year for 2021, Smriti Mandhana is the only Indian women player named in the 11 member team.

IMPORTANT DAYS

1st January, 2022 : 64th Foundation Day of DRDO.

DRDO was formed in 1958 from the amalgamation of the Technical Development Establishment (TDEs) of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP) with the Defence Science Organisation (DSO). 

04 January 2022 : World Braille Day   

9th January, 2022 : Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD)

  • PBD is celebrated on 9th January every year to mark the contribution of the Overseas Indian community in the development of India.
  • 9th January was chosen as the day to celebrate PBD since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.
  • This day came into effect in 2003, but in 2015 it was revised and was decided to be celebrated every two years. It was then a theme-based conference that was set up every year during the interim period.
  • PBD Conventions are held once every two years.
  • PBD 2021: The 16th PBD Convention was held virtually in New Delhi. The theme was “Contributing to Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
  • On this day, the Government also confers Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. It is the highest honour conferred on a Non-Resident Indian, Person of Indian Origin; or an organisation or institution established and run by Non-Resident Indians or Persons of Indian Origin, who have made significant contribution in better understanding of India abroad, support India’s causes and concerns in a tangible way.

10th January : World Hindi Day

  • It was first celebrated in 2006 to commemorate the anniversary of the first World Hindi Conference which was held in Nagpur on 10th January, 1975.
  • It is also celebrated by Indian embassies located in various parts of the world.
  • The World Hindi Secretariat building was inaugurated in Mauritius in 2018.
  • This year (2022) on the occasion UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre (WHC) has agreed to publish Hindi descriptions of India’s world heritage sites on WHC website.
  • Note : It is different from Hindi Divas(National Hindi Day) which is celebrated on 14th September.

12th January : National Youth Day (NYD)

  • It is held every year on 12th January to observe the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
  • Theme 2022: It’s all in the mind.
  • The Prime Minister inaugurated the 25th National Youth Festival celebrating the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, in Puducherry (it is a five-day festival, from 12 to 16 January).

14 January : Armed Forces Veterans Day   

15th January : 74th  Indian Army Day

  • Army Day is celebrated every year to honor the soldiers of the country.
  • The world’s largest national flag, made of Khadi fabric is put to display to celebrate the “Army Day” on January 15, 2022. It was displayed at Longewala, along the India – Pakistan Border in Jaisalmer. Longewala was the centre stage of the historic battle of 1971 between India and Pakistan. The Monumental National Flag is 225 feet long and 150 feet wide. It is approximately 1400 kgs in weight.
  • On 15th January 1949, Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa, who was then a Lieutenant General, took over as the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from General Sir Francis Butcher, the last British person to hold that post.
  • M. Cariappa adopted the slogan ‘Jai Hind’ which means ‘Victory of India’. He is also one of only two Indian Army officers to hold the Five-star rank of Field Marshal, the other being Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

16 January : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared to mark 16th  January as ‘National Start-up Day’ 

24 January  : International Day of Education 

24th January  : National Girl Child Day

  • National Commission for Women (NCW) organised ‘Save The Girl Child’
  • Twenty-nine children were given the “Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar-2022” on the occasion for their exceptional achievements in innovation, social science, education, sports, arts and culture and for demonstrating bravery.
  • India has one of the highest rates of female foeticide in the world.
  • Each year, at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India, which makes it home to the largest number of child brides in the world
  • Note : The National Girl Child Day was first initiated in 2008 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

January 30 : Shaheed Diwas

  • Martyr’s Day or Shaheed Diwas is observed every year on January 30 in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated at Gandhi Smriti in the Birla House by Nathuram Godse in 1948.
  • Notably, Martyrs’ Day is also observed in India on March 23 to pay respect to Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar, who was hanged death on this day in 1931.’

January 30 : World Leprosy Day

  • World Leprosy Day is observed globally on the last Sunday of January every year. In 2022, the World Leprosy Day falls on January 30, 2022. The day is celebrated to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured. In India, World Leprosy Day is celebrated every year on 30 January, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death.
  • This year theme of World Leprosy Day 2022 is “United for Dignity”.

30th January  : World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day

  • Neglected tropical disease day is observed every year on 30th
  • It was declared in the 74th World Health Assembly (2021).
  • The proposal to recognise the day was floated by the United Arab Emirates. It was adopted unanimously by the delegates.
  • Note : The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)?

  • NTDs are a group of infections that are most common among marginalized communities in the developing regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas. They are caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worms. NTDs are especially common in tropical areas where people do not have access to clean water or safe ways to dispose of human waste. These diseases generally receive less funding for research and treatment than malaises like tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS and malaria.
  • Examples of NTDs are: snakebite envenomation, scabies, yaws, trachoma, Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease etc.

Why is World NTD Day observed on 30th January?

  • World NTD Day commemorates the simultaneous launch of the first NTD road map (2012-2020) and the London Declaration on NTDs on 30th January 2012.

Veer Baal Diwas

  • Recently, the Prime Minister of India has declared that 26th December shall henceforth (from December 2022) be marked as “Veer Baal Diwas” to pay homage to the courage of the “Sahibzades”, four sons of Guru Gobind Singh, the last Sikh guru.
  • While all four were martyred, the date has been chosen as it was the day observed as the martyrdom day of the Sahibzadas Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, who were killed at the tender age of six and nine in Sirhind (Punjab) by Mughal forces.

STATE’S NEWS

Himachal Pradesh

  • Himachal Pradesh became 1st LPG enabled & smoke free state of the country . This milestone was achieved due to the Ujjwala Scheme and Grahini Suvidha Yojana by Centre. Himachal government also started the Grihini Suvidha Yojana to benefit as many women as possible, under the scheme.
  • In Himachal Pradesh, the 9th women National Ice Hockey Championship-2022 was inaugurated at Ice Skating Rink, Kaza in Lahaul Spiti For the first time in the state, Ice Hockey competition & development camp is being organized at the national level.
  • Apna Kangra’ app : Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jai Ram Thakur has launched the ‘Apna Kangra’ app and hampers handcrafted by self-help groups (SHGs) at Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. The app aims to provide a hassle-free experience for tourists and to boost sales of local handicrafts. While the app is bound to provide a unique experience for tourists on the one hand, on the other it will serve as an e-marketing platform for SHG products from the district.
  • The CM also virtually inaugurated Radhe Krishna Cow Sanctuary at Luthan in Jawalamukhi Vidhan Sabha area of Kangra.
  • The govt of HP initiated the scheme ‘Mukhya Mantri HIMCARE’ to provide medical services to cattles.  25 Jan : Statehood day of Himachal Pradesh. ( HP was given statehood on 25 Jan 1971).

Other States :

  • The Bihar Government has decided to use Drones to monitor illegal liquor manufacturing.
  • The Uttar Pradesh govt has announced that the Jhansi Railway Station in Uttar Pradesh will be known as Veerangana Lakshmibai Railway Station.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of Major Dhyan Chand Sports University in Meerut.
  • The Assam government has issued a preliminary notification to make Orang National Park more than thrice its existing size for conserving Gharials.
  • 21st January : Statehood Day of Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura. On 21st January, 1972, all the three states became full-fledged states under the North Eastern Region (Reorganisation) Act, 1971.
  • 1st electric boat (Muziris ) built for Kochi Water Metro Project, Kerela.
  • Telangana stood first in the country in the list of the highest number of open defecation free (ODF Plus) villages under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II programme till December 31, 2021.
  • India’s first Open Rock Museum inaugurated in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • Odisha’s Ganjam has declared itself a child marriage free district, the first in the State.
  • Union Ayush Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal has laid the foundation stone of the Heartfulness International Yoga Academy in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • The Kerala High Court become India’s first paperless court.
  • Sikkim celebrated Losoong (Namsoong) Festival.
  • Kevadiya railway station in the Narmada district of Gujarat renamed as Ekta Nagar railway station.
  • The 18th edition of the two days long Kachai Lemon Festival began in Manipur at the Local Ground of Kachai Village in Ukhrul district.
  • Kerala’s Kumbalanghi is set to become the country’s first sanitary napkin-free panchayat.
  • Lavni artist from Maharashtra, Sumit Bhale of Fulbari taluka has won a gold medal at the International Folk Art Festival in Dubai.
  • Jahnavi Dangeti, a young girl from Andhra Pradesh, has just completed NASA’s International Air and Space Program (IASP) at the Kennedy Space Centre in Alabama, US, making her the first Indian to accomplish this feat. She is part of a carefully shortlisted group of 20 students from around the world.
  • Kokborok Day, also known as the Tripuri Language Day is annually celebrated across the Indian State of Tripura on 19th January with an aim to develop the Kokborok (Tripuri) Language. The day commemorates the initial recognition of Kokborok as the official language of the state in 1979.
  • India’s first para-badminton academy has been set up in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
  • India’s first innovation centre for graphene will be set up in Kerala

MISCELLANEOUS (in News) 

  • Sudhir Kumar Saxena committee : Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted a committee to enquire into the serious lapses in the security arrangements during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab. It is a three-member committee and will be headed by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat.
  • Justice Indu Malhotra committee : The Supreme Court of India has constituted a five-member committee to probe the security breach during the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Punjab. The committee will be headed by former apex court judge Justice Indu Malhotra.
  • Jal Jeewan mission (JJM) : Launched in 2019, it envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024. JJM comes under Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • ‘Ayush Aahaar’ : Recently, the Ministry of Ayush made a new beginning by making ‘Ayush Aahaar’ available at its canteen at Ayush Bhawan (Delhi). It aims to promote a nutritional diet and a healthy living.
  • Recently, the Union Cabinet has cleared a plan to build a new bridge connecting India and Nepal over the Mahakali river (also called Kali or Sharda) and link Dharchula in Uttarakhand with Nepal’s Dharchula. The bridge will be completed within three years.
  • Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Turkmenistan on Cooperation in the field of Disaster Management.
  • A US man (David Bennett) has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.
  • Recently, India and the UK have launched the formal Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, that both countries envisage concluding by the end of 2022.
  • Indore is the only city in the country that safely handles its domestic hazardous waste.
  • Recently, two American agencies have released data showing that 2021 was the world’s sixth warmest year on record. Earth in 2021 was about 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the late 19th century average, the start of the industrial revolution.
  • Recently, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released a report titled World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends (WESO Trends) 2022.
  • Great Resignation : In the aftermath of Covid-19, large numbers of people are walking out of their jobs, especially in the US and European countries. A record 3 million people resigned in August 2021. The American psychologist Anthony Klotz has called it the “Great Resignation” — a call to remap priorities in the work-life equation.
  • Recently, the 4th Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation was held. It was organized by Malaysia and Global Tiger Forum (GTF).
  • Recently, India has become the largest exporter of gherkins in the world. India exported cucumber and gherkins (Pickling Cucumber) to the tune of 1,23,846 metric tonnes with a value of USD 114 million during April-October (2020-21).
  • Recently, the International Counter Terrorism Conference 2022 was organised by the Global Counter Terrorism Council (GCTC).
  • India is likely to achieve electronics production of USD300 billion by 2026, lower than the target of USD400 billion by 2025 set as per the National Policy on Electronics (NPE) 2019.
  • Recently, naming a playground on Tipu Sultan in Mumbai sparked a controversy.
  • Bangladesh has emerged as the top destination for exported Indian pomegranates over the last few years.
  • World’s longest Metro line opened in China (Shanghai).
  • Russia successfully test-fired around 10 new Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missiles (range 1000 km) from a frigate and other two missiles from a submarine.
  • Indian-origin Ashok Elluswamy was first employee to be hired for US-based electric vehicle energy company ‘Tesla’ as a software engineer for its Autopilot division. Earlier he was associated with Volkswagen.
  • Covid-19 new variant ‘IHU’ (Instituts Hospitalo-Universitaires) discovered in France. The new variant is said to be a more mutated strain than Omicron.
  • The stock market value of Apple Inc. hit $3 trillion and became the world’s first company to do so.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appointed Deepak Kumar and Ajay Kumar Choudhary as new executive directors (ED) with effect from 03 January.
  • Alka Mittal becomes 1st women head (interim) of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
  • India’s oldest female sloth bear, whose name was Gulabo, has passed away at the Van Vihar National Park and Zoo, located in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Gulabo was the oldest sloth bear of the country.
  • Cyprus has detected a new variant dubbed as “Deltacron”, that has a similar genetic background to the Delta variant, coupled with 10 mutations from Omicron.
  • India has announced financial assistance of USD 900 million loans to Sri Lanka to overcome forex crisis.
  • Philippines has become the first foreign country to place an order for the purchase of the BrahMos Shore-Based cruise Missile System (of India) for its navy. he estimated deal cost is worth $374,9 million.
  • The 20th Dhaka International Film Festival begins at Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • India’s Navdeep Kaur wins Best National Costume award at Mrs World 2022 pageant in Nevada, Las Vegas.
  • India’s “Supermom” tigress (gave birth to 29 cubs in 16 years) , popularly known as ‘Collarwali’, has passed away at Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Madhya Pradesh, due to old age.
  • Israel completed a successful flight test of the Arrow-3 (an exoatmospheric hypersonic anti-ballistic missile, jointly funded, developed and produced by Israel and the United States.).
  • The Oxford University Press (OUP) has picked up ‘Anxiety’ as the Children’s Word of the Year 2021, based on their recent research.
  • A new species of rainfrog, discovered in the Panama jungle, has been named after Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. The species has been named as Pristimantis gretathunbergae, or popularly known as the Greta Thunberg Rainfrog.
  • Poet Maya Angelou becomes the first black woman to appear on US coin.
  • Swedish defence company ‘Saab’ had been selected by the Indian Armed Force through a competitive programme for the supply of single-shot anti-armour weapon AT4.
  • Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was conferred with the Netaji Award 2022 by Netaji Research Bureau.
  • Prajakta Koli has become India’s first UN Development Programme (UNDP) Youth Climate Champion. She is a content creator on various online platforms like youtube, Instagram, etc.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully test-fired (at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu) the Vikas engine that would power India’s first human-carry rocket (Gaganyaan human space mission).
  • Russia delivered all the contracted 70,000 AK-203 Kalashnikov assault rifles to the Indian Armed Forces. The total cost of the contract is around Rs 5,124 crore.
  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has launched the official mobile application of the Parliament named ‘Digital Sansad App’ on January 27, 2022, to allow citizens to access live proceedings of the House, including the Union Budget 2022 live.
  • The Government of India has joined hands with the Government of Israel to create 150 ‘Villages of Excellence’ in 12 States of the country, to help farmers to adopt the latest technology in the farm sector.

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