Current Affairs February – 2022
- INTERNATIONAL ( WORLD)
- HISTORY , ART & CULTURE
- SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- RANKS AND REPORTS
- BIODIVERSITY AND ENVIRONMENT
- AWARDS AND HONOURS
- OBITUARIES / DEATHS
- SPORTS/ GAMES
- IMPORTANT DAYS
- STATE’s News
INTERNATIONAL / WORLD NEWS
Quit Tobacco App : launched by WHO
- The World Health Organization (WHO) launched ‘Quit Tobacco App’ to help people kick the cigarette butt and give up use of tobacco in all forms – including smokeless and other newer products.
- The ‘WHO Quit Tobacco App’, launched during WHO’s year-long ‘Commit to quit’ campaign, is the latest tobacco control initiative by the WHO South-East Asia Region.
- Note : World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed around the world every year on 31 May.
- ‘The Jet’ is the world’s first clean-energy, hydrogen-powered flying boat set to be launched in Dubai.
- Swiss startup THE JET ZeroEmission has signed an agreement with UAE-based Zenith Marine Services and US-based DWYN to manufacture and operate ‘The Jet’.
- North Korea successfully tested its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile from the Jagang Province area. This was the first nuclear-capable missile testing undertaken by the country since 2017.
First yoga festival in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)
- Saudi Arabia has organized the first-ever yoga festival on Bay La Sun Beach near Jeddah, which drew over 1,000 yoga practitioners from throughout the kingdom.
- Note: The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on 21 June since 2015.
‘Villages of Excellence’
- The Centre has decided to convert as many as 150 villages into ‘Villages of Excellence’ in 12 states with technical assistance from the Israel government.
- Already, the Israel government has established 29 Centre of Excellence in 12 states, which are producing more than 25 million vegetable plants, over 3,87,000 quality fruit plants and can train more than 1.2 lakh farmers per year.
India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2022
- Recently, the 2nd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting with India was held.
- The Ministers meeting approved the India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2022 which includes system for combating the use of stolen and counterfeit mobile handsets, WiFi Access network interface for nationwide public internet, the 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, etc.
CPEC enters Second Phase
- Recently, Pakistan signed a new agreement with China to begin the second phase of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The second phase primarily revolves around Special Economic Zones (SEZs) development and industrialisation.
- About CPEC : CPEC is a 3,000-km long route of infrastructure projects connecting China’s northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Gwadar Port in the western province of Balochistan in Pakistan. It is a bilateral project between Pakistan and China, intended to promote connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects.
- It will pave the way for China to access the Middle East and Africa from Gwadar Port, enabling China to access the Indian Ocean and in return China will support development projects in Pakistan to overcome the latter’s energy crises and stabilising its faltering economy.
- CPEC is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI, launched in 2013, aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
- India’s Stand : It undermines India’s Sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
China supports Argentina in Falkland Islands dispute
- In news : Chinese embassy in the UK extended its support to Argentina’s legitimate claim to full sovereignty over the Islands. China has advocated that territorial disputes between countries should be resolved by means of peaceful negotiations in line with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.
- Falkland Islands, also called Malvinas Islands or Spanish Islas Malvinas, internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the South Atlantic Ocean. The two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, and about 200 smaller islands. The capital and major town is Stanley, on East Falkland, there are also several scattered small settlements as well as a Royal Air Force base that is located at Mount Pleasant.
- Note : Argentina regularly protested Britain’s occupation of the islands.
India to help Sri Lanka in launching UDIF
- India has agreed to provide a grant to Sri Lanka to implement a ‘Unitary Digital Identity framework’. What is the Unitary Digital Identity framework (UDIF)?
- UDIF is apparently similar to India’s Aadhaar card. The proposed UDIF is expected to introduce a:
- Personal identity verification device based on biometric data
- Digital tool that can represent the identities of individuals in cyberspace and
- Identification of individual identities that can be accurately verified in digital and physical environments by combining the two devices.
One Ocean Summit
- The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed the high-level segment of the One Ocean Summit.
- The One Ocean summit is being organised by France, in Brest, France in cooperation with the United Nations and the World Bank.
- The objective of the summit is to mobilise the international community to take tangible action towards preserving and supporting healthy and sustainable ocean ecosystems.
- Note: The United Nations has declared the decade between 2021 and 2030 as the ‘Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’ to raise awareness and restore declining marine life.
- Summary of PM address at the One Ocean Summit : India has always been a maritime civilization. India’s ancient scriptures and literature talk about the gifts of the oceans, including marine life. India’s security and prosperity are linked to oceans. It’s “Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative” contains marine resources as a key pillar. India supports the French initiative of a “High Ambition Coalition on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction ”. Further, India is committed to eliminating single-use plastic and ecently undertook a nation-wide awareness campaign to clean plastic and other waste from coastal areas.
4th Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Melbourne
- Recently, the fourth meeting of the foreign ministers of the QUAD grouping (India, the US, Australia and Japan) was held in Melbourne , Australia.
- The meeting was held amid escalating tension between Russia and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries over Ukraine, the Afghan crisis and increasing concerns over China’s “coercion” in the IndoPacific region.
Key outcomes of the Quad summit :
- On terrorism: Group requested countries not to let use their territories to launch terror attacks. They also condemned the terrorist attacks in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks, indicating both attacks linked to the Lashkar e Toiba and Jaish e Mohammad in Pakistan.
- On China: The Group discussed China’s actions in the South and East China Sea. It reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. In response to it, China called the Quad mechanism “only a tool to contain China.”
- On Myanmar and North Korea: The joint statement called for a return to democracy in Myanmar, and also condemned North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests.
- On vaccines: Quad countries renewed their commitment to the “flagship” Quad Vaccine initiative to deliver at least one billion vaccines by the end of 2022 to Indo-Pacific countries. They also pledged to donate 1.3 billion vaccine doses globally.
- On other fields: Quad also discussed the progress on the other fields for cooperation identified during the Quad summit last year, including climate change, critical and emerging technologies, counter-terrorism, etc.
Areas of divergence :
- On Myanmar situation: While the US supports the sanctions on Myanmar, India is interested in not following the policy of national sanctions. India has concerns over cross border insurgencies, Covid infections, and a humanitarian situation that could arise from food shortages.
- On Russia: Apart from India, all the three countries expressed their concerns over the Russia-Ukraine situation.
What is QUAD?
- It is the grouping of four democracies –India, Australia, the US, and Japan. All four nations find a common ground of being democratic nations and also support the common interest of unhindered maritime trade and security. The Quad is billed as four democracies with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region. The idea of Quad was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, apparently due to Chinese pressure. Finally in 2017, India, Australia, the US and Japan, came together and formed this “quadrilateral” coalition.
America’s Indo-Pacific strategy
- Recently, the US administration has announced its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy. The document focuses on building collective capacity to deal with challenges in the region.
- These include a focus on challenges from China, advancing the US relationship, a ‘Major Defense Partnership’ with India and supporting its role as a net security provider in the region.
- There is an emphasis on working with other countries not just from the region, but also from beyond.
India and Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
- Recently, India lashed out at the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for being “communal minded” and “hijacked by vested interests” after the grouping called on the UN Human Rights Council to take “necessary measures” on the issue of Muslim girl students being told not to wear the hijab in Karnataka schools.
- The OIC also urged India to “ensure the safety, security and well being of the Muslim community while protecting their way of life”. India’s response to the OIC statement was that India is a democracy, and issues within the country are resolved “in accordance with our Constitutional framework and mechanism, as well as democratic ethos and polity.
- About Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC):
- With 57 members, it is the world’s second largest multilateral body after the UN. All members of OIC are Islamic countries or Muslim majority members.
- Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- India & OIC: As a country with the world’s second largest Muslim community, India had been invited to the founding conference at Rabat in 1969, but was humiliatingly ejected at Pakistan’s behest. But India stayed away because of a multiplicity of reasons, not least of which was that as a secular country, it did not want to join an organisation founded on religion. In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, as a “guest of honour”.
TERI’s World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS)
- The Prime Minister N.Modi has delivered the inaugural address at the World Sustainable Development Summit.
- WSDS is an annual event organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) since 2001. The summit was earlier known as Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.
- Aim: To bring together a wide number of participants in the fight against climate change. Participants include governments, business leaders, academicians, climate scientists, youth, and civil society.
- Theme: “Towards a Resilient Planet: Ensuring a Sustainable and Equitable Future”.
Key highlights from the PM’s address at the Summit :
- The LED bulb distribution scheme (UJALA) that has been running for over seven years, has helped save more than 220 billion units of electricity and 180 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
- India is a mega-diverse country. With 2.4% of the world’s land area, India accounts for nearly 8% of the world’s species.
- Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram Haryana being declared as an Other Effective Area – based Conservation Measures (OECM) site for its effective conservation of biodiversity.
- Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh have been recently included as Ramsar Site from India.With this, India now has 49 Ramsar sites which is the highest in South Asia.
India- UAE Virtual Summit
- Indian PM and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi held a Virtual Summit. Both leaders expressed deep satisfaction at the continuous growth in bilateral relations in all sectors.
- Note : Earlier in September 2021, India and the UAE formally launched negotiations on the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
- India-UAE signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA): The Agreement will provide significant benefits to Indian and UAE businesses, including enhanced market access and reduced tariffs. It is expected that the CEPA will lead to an increase in bilateral trade from the current $60bn to $100bn in the next 5 years. AJoint Vision Statement “Advancing the India and UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: New Frontiers, New Milestone”was issued.
- Both India and UAE jointly committed to o a) fight extremism and terrorism, b) enhancing maritime cooperation, c) promote e-payment solutions, d) set up an IIT in the UAE and a joint Hydrogen Task Force (with special focus on production of Green Hydrogen).
- Benefits of CEPA: a) will enable Indian professionals to find enhanced opportunities in the UAE. Both sides will benefit from UAE’s location as a strategic gateway to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. b) All forms of capital – financial, technological and human – will flow in both directions with a new and more efficient framework. c) It would generate 10 lakh jobs across multiple labour-intensive sectors. d) The pact would open access to broader African and Asian markets for India. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises will also find it easier to go global. India and the UAE have attractive, competitive and complementary startup ecosystems.
- UAE is India’s third largest trade partner.
- UAE hosts a large India community which numbers close to 3.5 million.
The Russia-Ukraine Conflict
- Recently, Russia recognised two independent republics out of Ukraine (Donetsk and Luhansk – Donbass region).
- On 24th February 2022 the Russian troops invaded the Ukrainian territory from three sides and the Russia-Ukraine conflict is getting intensified with every passing day. The Russian attack has sent shock waves across the world and created hardships for native Ukrainian citizens as well as the diaspora of foreign countries residing in Ukraine. The Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia and have called for a UNSC meeting over the issue. But none of this has been able to deter Russia to soften its approach towards its intervention in Ukraine. What has been the historic relationship between Russia and Ukraine?
- A millennium ago, what is Ukraine today was part of the Kievan Rus’ (Rus’ land). It was a federation of the East Slavic, Baltic, and Finnic peoples of Eastern and Northern Europe, with its capital in Kyiv. Modern Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus all trace their cultural ancestry to the Kievan Rus’. After the decline of Keivan Rus’, the Ukrainian region was part of different empires and regions. Moving forward to the 19th century, the region was under the control of the Russian Tsar. This historical association had made the Russian President to note that ‘Russians and Ukrainians are one people divided artificially by borders and outsiders‘ in an an essay titled, ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’.
- During the World War 1 (1917), the Bolshevik revolution took place in Russia that ended Tsar’s reign. Months after the revolution, an independent Ukrainian People’s Republic was proclaimed. However, a civil war continued between various claimants to power, including Ukrainian factions, anarchists, Tsarists, and Poland. Eventually in 1922, Ukraine (Ukraine SSR) became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
- In the late 1980s, as the internal conflict intensified in the USSR, over 300,000 Ukrainians created a human chain in support of freedom, and the so-called Granite Revolution of students sought to prevent the signing of a new agreement with the USSR in 1990. On August 24, 1991, after the failure of the coup to remove President Mikhail Gorbachev and restore the communists to power, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted the country’s Act of Independence. A referendum for independence held in December 1991 was supported by 92% of the people. In December 1991, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
How did Ukraine fall out with Russia?
- After its independent in 1991, Ukraine adopted a largely neutral foreign policy. It was one of the founding members of the CIS, but did not join the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation). Initially, Ukraine stayed away from NATO as well. But the offer of membership by the NATO in 2008 started changing equations between Moscow and Kyiv.
- After the regime of pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych was brought down in the 2014 Euromaidan protests and a pro-West government was established in Kyiv, the relationship turned hostile. Russia suspected hands of the Western Governments in engineering the regime change. Russia moved swiftly to take Crimea, which also hosts Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and started supporting separatist rebels in Donbas region in east Ukraine.
- Ukraine later exited the CIS and wrote its desire to join NATO into its Constitution. These developments pulled the countries apart, setting the stage for permanent hostility, which led to the current conflict.
How has the Russia-Ukraine Conflict unfolded so far?
- On 21st February 2022, the Russian President announced his decision to recognise the two breakaway regions of Ukraine (Donetsk and Luhansk) as independent states. On 24th February, Russia invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea. The main targets were military infrastructure. Russian forces pressed their advance on 25th February and the Ukrainian President pleaded with the international community to help the nation. A martial law has been imposed in Ukraine to effectively deal with the situation.
What are the reasons behind Russian intervention?
- Security Concern: The influence of NATO has been expanding eastward in the European region since the Soviet collapse. The erstwhile USSR states like Estonia, Latvia etc. and the former Communist States in Soviet Sphere of influence like Romania have now joined the NATO.
- There was a strong Russian apprehension that Ukraine was about to join NATO and that would have led to complete encirclement of Russia’s western border by the NATO. The NATO enlargement has been accompanied by deployment of Western military resources in the vicinity of Russia.
- Right of Self Determination: Russia said Ukraine hosts a substantial portion of masses that want to create an independent nation. In this regard, it recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. The intervention is a step towards converting this formal announcement into reality.
- Strategic considerations: Russia was constantly losing its glory and power in the European region to its western counterparts. Intervention is seen as a strong message to show the magnitude of power possessed by the nation.
How has the world reacted to the Russia-Ukraine Conflict?
- G7 leaders on 24th February, promised ‘devastating packages of sanction’ on Russia. They however didn’t promise direct military intervention as Ukraine is not a NATO member. Nonetheless, they showed commitment to supply the necessary arms and ammunition to Ukraine.
- The U.S, Britain, Germany and many other nations imposed harsh sanctions to cripple the Russian Economy. The sanctions would impede Russia’s ability to do business in major currencies and targeted individual banks and stateowned enterprises.
- Similarly, a UNSC meeting was organized to condemn the Russian military action against Ukraine. The meeting was vetoed by Russia and hence the resolution couldn’t pass. However not all remaining 14 members voted in favor as 3 members (India, China and UAE) abstained from voting.
What could be the probable impacts of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict?
- Loss of Human Lives: The most harmful impact would be loss of human lives from either side. No matter which nation emerges victorious in the conflict, a substantial number of people will certainly die.
- Nuclear Risk: The Russian forces have taken control over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Their rampant activity may increase nuclear radiation levels around the region. Further Russia may use Nuclear Weapons if Western powers intervene in the matter, with the Russian nuclear deterrent forces already on high alert.
- Militarization of Europe: An arms race could start again in Europe, with countries trying to raise their arsenal for protecting themselves against the sudden intervention from strong powers.
- Global Economic Slowdown: The sanctions imposed on Russia may surge Global Prices of various commodities including oil. Trade would also be impacted. Stock markets have already plunged, and oil prices surged since the start of the conflict. Undermining the Credibility of the UN: If the crisis doesn’t come to a halt in due time, then it would erode the UN’s credibility amongst smaller nations. It would further concretize the saying of might is right and undermine the concept of sovereign equality.
What are the options before India regarding the Russia-Ukraine Conflict?
- There are four potential options India can choose from: (a) Condemn Russian aggression; (b) Support Russian aggression; (c) Stay silent on Russian aggression, or (d) Express displeasure (short of condemning) and call for diplomacy.
- The first option will pit India against Russia, the second will pit it against the U.S. and its allies, the third option will be read as pro-Russia, and the fourth option — which it has taken — is the least harmful.
- India has expressed displeasure but not outrightly condemned the intervention. India has called for an ‘immediate cessation of violence’ and has so far refused to pay heed to Ukrainian Ambassador’s pleas urging it to mediate with Mr.
Putin to halt Russian military advances. What is the rationale behind India’s stance?
- Countering China’s Rise: Relying solely on the U.S and its allies is not enough to counter China’s aggressions. It needs both the U.S./the West and Russia to deal with the ‘China problem’.
- Unavoidable dualism in Contemporary Indian strategic landscape: New Delhi needs Moscow’s assistance to manage its continental difficulties. These include ensuring defense supplies, helping India ‘return’ to Central Asia, working together at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or exploring opportunities for collaboration in Afghanistan. On the other hand, India is simply not in a position to address the China challenge in maritime space without the active support of American and Western navies.
- Trade and Investment: India- Russia trade is valued at around $10 billion dollars. India imports a substantial amount of energy and defense material from Russia. Any extreme stance against Russia would have jeopardized the trade. What would be the impact of a prolonged Russia-Ukraine Conflict on India’s interest?
- First, Russian action in Ukraine, dismissing the concerns of the rest of the international community, will embolden China and its territorial ambitions. China might adopt a more aggressive stance against Taiwan.
- Second, the new sanctions regime may have implications for India’s defense cooperation with Moscow.
- Third, the longer the standoff lasts, the closer China and Russia could become, which raises new challenges for Indian diplomacy.
- Fourth, the more severe the US-Russia rivalry becomes, the less focus there would be on the Indo-Pacific and China, which is where India’s interests lie.What lies ahead for India?
- India might adopt a more middle-of-the-road behavior rather than resolute positions on global strategic developments.
- India should look for alternatives in place of Russia and reduce its high degree of dependence in sectors like defense and energy. For instance, in the case of coking coal, focus should be on Australia, Brazil and other central asian countries.
- The countries should encourage diplomacy and dialogue between Russia and Ukraine based on mutually agreed terms. This is sine qua non for bringing long lasting peace in the region.
- Until that is achieved, the focus should be on ensuring that Russia functions as per the Geneva Conventions on International Humanitarian Law.
The Russia-Ukraine Conflict is a litmus test for the International law which can be passed only when the major world powers are willing to dilute their rigid stance and cooperate on bringing everlasting peace in the region.
Russian Banks Excluded from SWIFT payment system
- The US and European Union (EU) have decided to exclude some Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system.
- SWIFT system stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.
- It is a secure platform for financial institutions to exchange information about global monetary transactions such as money transfers. It was established in 1973 and is based in Belgium.
- While SWIFT does not actually move money, it operates as a middleman to verify information of transactions by providing secure financial messaging services to more than 11,000 banks in over 200 countries. It is overseen by the central banks from eleven industrial countries.
- Note : India’s financial system has access to the SWIFT.
- The crucial role of SWIFT can be known by the fact that when some Iranian banks were cut off from SWIFT in 2012, its oil exports fell sharply from more than 3 million barrels a day in 2011 to about 1 million barrels a day a few years later. How could a SWIFT ban affect Russia?
- Banning Russian banks from availing of SWIFT services restricts the country’s access to financial markets across the world. It would make it harder for Russian companies and individuals to pay for imports and receive cash for exports.
- However, Russian banks could use alternative messaging systems such as phones, messaging apps or email to make payments via banks in countries that have not imposed sanctions. But these are likely to be less efficient and secure, as transaction volumes could fall and costs rise.
How would the SWIFT ban on Russia impact India?
- India might face interruption and delay in arms import with Russia. However, there is some relief for India and Russia as their bilateral payments are made in Indian Rupee and sometimes in other currencies like Euro for both imports and exports. So, sanctions may not have a huge impact on the payments.
UNSC Resolution against Russia
- Recently, the United Nation Security Council voted on the draft resolution by the US and Albania that sought to condemn Russian aggression and called for the immediate cessation of violence and withdrawal of Russian military from Ukraine.
- The resolution did not pass since the permanent member and President of the Security Council for the month of February Russia, used its veto.
- The resolution received 11 votes in favour and three abstentions. China and India both abstained.
- Note : The original version was too strong, as it invoked UN Chapter VII, which authorises the use of force against Russian troops in Ukraine.
Govt of India bans 54 Chinese apps over security threat concerns
The Government of India is set to issue a ban on 54 Chinese applications that pose a threat to India’s security. The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it had received a request from the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for blocking the 54 apps under the emergency provision envisaged in Section 69(A) of the IT Act. The Centre had blocked 59 apps on June 29, 2020, followed by a ban on 47 related/cloning apps on August 10, 2020. Thereafter, 118 apps were blocked on September 1, 2020, and another 43 apps on November 19, the same year.
CRNO visited India
Rear Admiral Saif Bin Nasser Bin Mohsin Al Rahbi, Commander of the Royal Navy of Oman (CRNO) is on a goodwill visit (13 – 17 Feb 22) of to India.
Digital Sansad App
- The Lok Sabha secretariat has launched a new app, Digital Sansad.
- The App, planned by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, will help people get all Parliamentary updates.
- It becomes easier for citizens to access general information on MPs, on budget speeches since 1947, House discussions from 12th Lok Sabha to 17th Lok Sabha.
- The App will also contain the live telecast of Sansad proceedings, the major news of the day, etc.
Ombudsperson App for Mahatma Gandhi NREGA
- Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Giriraj Singh launched the Ombudsperson App for Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.
- The Ombudsperson App is a step towards e-governance; this will be helpful in ensuring transparency and accountability.
‘Meri Policy Mere Hath’ campaign
The campaign aims to ensure all farmers are well aware and equipped with all information on their policies, land records, the process of claim and grievance redressal under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED)
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar launches the Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED) for the welfare of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Communities.
Central Media Accreditation Guidelines 2022
- The Central government has released the Central Media Accreditation Guidelines-2022.
- Meaning of media accreditation : Media accreditation issued by PIB allows journalists access to government offices and official functions.It can be seen as a media pass that allows entry into government offices including Parliament and events which wouldn’t be possible without it. Provisions for Granting Accreditation:
- Accreditation is only available for journalists living in the Delhi NCR region.
- A journalist needs to have a minimum five years’ professional experience as a full-time working journalist or a cameraperson in a news organisation, or a minimum of 15 years as a freelancer to become eligible.
- Veteran journalists, with over 30 years of experience, and who are older than 65 years of age, too are eligible.
- A newspaper or a periodical needs to have a minimum daily circulation of 10,000, and news agencies must have at least 100 subscribers. Similar rules apply for foreign news organisations and foreign journalists.
- Journalists working with digital news platforms are also eligible, provided the website has a minimum of 10 lakh unique visitors per month.
- No accreditation will be granted to freelance journalists working for foreign news media organisations.
Central Media Accreditation Committee (CMAC):
- The Government shall constitute a Committee called the Central Media Accreditation Committee. The Committee will be chaired by the Principal Director General (DG), Press Information Bureau (PIB) and composed of up to 25 members nominated by the government to discharge the functions laid down under these guidelines. The CMAC would function for a period of two years from the date of its first meeting and shall meet once in a quarter or more frequently, if necessary.
Conditions for Withdrawing/Suspending Accreditation: A journalist can lose accreditation o if they act in a manner which is prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement of an offence.
- if they are charged with a serious cognisable offence. o if they violate any of the terms and conditions of the accreditation. o if they furnish false/fraudulent, forged information/ documents.
- if the news media organisation on behalf of which the accreditation has been granted “recommends the withdrawal of accreditation”.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush 4.0
- Recently, the Ministry of Health virtually launched Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 4.0.
- It will ensure that Routine Immunization (RI) services reach unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children and pregnant women. Children up to two years will be covered in this drive.
- While the pace of routine immunisation has slowed down due to Covid-19 pandemic, IMI 4.0 will immensely contribute in filling the gaps and make lasting gains towards universal immunisation.
- Three rounds of IMI 4.0 will be conducted in 416 districts, including 75 districts identified for Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav across 33 States/UTs.
New India Literacy Programme (2022-27)
- Government-approved a new scheme “New India Literacy Programme” for the period FYs 2022-2027 to cover all the aspects of Adult Education to align with National Education Policy 2020.
- Further, as a progressive step, the government has also decided to use the term “Education For All” in place of “Adult Education.” This is because the terminology “Adult Education” is not incorporating appropriately all non-literates of 15 years and above age group.
About the status of Adult illiteracy in India
- As per Census 2011, the absolute number of non-literates of the country in 15 years and above age group is 25.76 crore. About 7.64 crore persons are certified as literates under the Saakshar Bharat programme. Hence, it is estimated that currently, around 18.12 crore adults are still non-literate in India.
About the New India Literacy Programme(NILP)
- Implementing ministry: Ministry of Education in convergence with various Ministries and Departments.
- The scheme will be implemented through volunteerism through online mode. The training, orientation, workshops of volunteers, maybe organized through face-to-face mode.
- Objective: To impart not only foundational literacy and numeracy but also to cover other components which are necessary for a citizen of the 21st century. Such as
- critical life skills (financial literacy, digital literacy, commercial skills, health care and awareness, child care and education, and family welfare)
- vocational skills (with a view towards obtaining local employment);
- basic education (including preparatory, middle, and secondary stage equivalency) and
- continuing education (including engaging holistic adult education courses in arts, sciences, etc and recreation, as well as other topics of interest or use to local learners).
- Intended beneficiaries: The scheme will cover non-literates of the age of 15 years and above in all states/UTs.
- Targets: The target for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy for FYs 2022-27 is 5 crore learners at one crore per year by using “Online Teaching, Learning and Assessment System (OTLAS).”
- Funding: It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
Salient features of the New India Literacy Programme (NILP)
- -School will be the Unit for the implementation of the scheme.
- -Flexibility for States/UTs will be provided to undertake innovative activities.
- -Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be imparted through Critical Life Skills.
- -CSR/Philanthropic Support may be received.
- -Use of Technologies to impart Adult Education for wider coverage of the scheme.
- -The Performance Grading Index (PGI) for State/UT and district level will show the performance of States and UTs on yearly basis by measuring progress through UDISE portal.
- -The age cohort of 15-35 will be saturated first followed by ages 35 and above.
- Priority will be given in terms of categories to the Girls and women, SC/ST/OBC/Minorities, etc. who can substantially and immediately benefit from adult education.
- -The focus will be on all aspirational districts, districts with literacy rates less than the National/State average, etc.
Draft law on refugee rights:
- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently held a discussion on “protection of the basic human rights of refugees and asylum seekers in India”.
- Many participants raised the issue of India not having a specific law for refugees and asylum-seekers.
- The discussion noted that, though India has not signed the United Nations Refugee Convention, 1951, the refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to the rights in Articles 14, 20 and 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the state to protect these rights.
Budgeting for Children 2022-23
- Children in the country received the lowest share of allocation in the Budget in 11 years.
- Budgeting for children by the Union Government had started as early as 2008 with the publication of the first-ever Child Budget Statement. Subsequently, several states have also initiated the practice.
- The total allocation for children in Union Budget 2023 is Rs. 92,736.5 crore, against an allocation of Rs. 85,712.56 crore in the last Budget. Though this is an increase of 8.19% in absolute terms, it’s not proportionate to the increase in the total expenditure in the Union Budget.
- The share of the Budget for children is a meagre 2.35% of the Union Budget for the next fiscal (2022-23), which is a reduction of 0.11%, which is the lowest share children have received in the last 11 years.
Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022
- The Ministry of Environment has launched new rules called the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022.
- India is one of the world’s largest producers, importers and consumers of plastic material, a sizable part of which is utilized for packaging. A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report (2018-19) puts the total annual plastic waste generation in India at 3 million metric tonnes.
- This use of plastic is believed to have gone up substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the surge in online shopping. Consequently, the share of plastics in the municipal waste is reckoned to have spurted from around 10% earlier to close to 20% now.
- The worrisome part is that over 40% of the total plastic consumption is in the form of single-use items, including the plastic carry-bags. These have limited-period utility but high littering potential.
What is the meaning of Plastic Waste Management?
- It refers to managing the plastic waste generated and processing it to make it reusable. The characteristic activities of waste management include: (a) Collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, (b) Control, monitoring and regulation of the production, collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, and (c) Prevention of waste production through in—process modifications, reuse and recycling.
What are the new Plastic Waste Management Rules?
- Classification of Plastics: The new rules classify plastics into four categories: (a) Category One will include rigid plastic packaging; (b) Category Two will include flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches; (c) Category Three will include Multi-layered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic); (d) Category Four will include plastic sheets used for packaging as well as carry bags made of compostable plastics.
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): It covers reuse, recycling, use of recycled plastic content and end of life disposal by producers, importers and brand-owners. The term simply means the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
- Centralized Online Portal: It calls for creating a centralized online portal by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). It will be used for the registration as well as filing of annual returns by producers, importers and brand-owners.
Environmental compensation: It shall be levied based upon polluter pays principle, with respect to non-fulfilment of EPR targets by producers, importers and brand owners. However payment of compensation will not absolve the liability and unfulfilled EPR obligations for a particular year will be carried forward to the next year for a period of three years.
- Committee creation: It will be constituted by the CPCB under the chairmanship of CPCB chairman. It would recommend measures to the ministry for effective implementation of EPR, including amendments to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) guidelines.
- Extended Producer Responsibility Certificates: The guidelines allow for sale and purchase of surplus extended producer responsibility certificates.
Operation Ganga : launched by GOI
- Operation Ganga was launched to help stranded Indian nationals come back to India from Ukraine through special flights amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are around 20,000 Indians including students stuck in Ukraine.
- Since Ukraine is currently a no-fly zone, citizens and students are being evacuated to nearby countries like Romania and Hungary after which they are being flown to India.
- A dedicated Twitter handle ‘OpGanga Helpline’ to assist Indian evacuation from Ukraine has also been announced.
Other previous evacuation mission/Operations by India
- “Operation Devi Shakti” (August 2021) : to evacuate its citizens from war-torn Afghanistan.
- Vande Bharat Mission (2020): launched during Covid-19 pandemic to bring back Indian citizens stranded in foreign countries. In the multiple phases of the operation, about 60 lakh Indians were brought back as on 30th April, 2021.
- Operation Samudra Setu (2020): It was a naval operation as part of the national effort to bring home Indian citizens from overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic. It successfully brought back 3,992 Indian citizens to their homeland by sea.
- Evacuation from Brussels (2016): In March 2016, Belgium was hit by terrorist strikes at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, and one at Maalbeek Metro station in central Brussels. A total of 242 Indians, including 28 crew members, returned to India in a Jet Airways flight.
- Operation Raahat: It was launched by the Indian Armed Forces, to evacuate Indian citizens and foreign nationals of 41 countries from Yemen during the 2015 Yemen Crisis.
- Operation Maitri: It was a rescue and relief operation in Nepal carried out by the government of India and Indian armed forces in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
- Operation Safe Homecoming: It was an operation launched by the Indian government in 2011 to evacuate its citizens, fleeing from the Libyan Civil War.
- Operation Sukoon: It was an operation carried out by the Indian Navy to evacuate Indian, Sri Lankan and Nepalese nationals from the conflict zone during the 2006 Lebanon War.
- 1990 Kuwait Airlift : During Iraq’s invasion in Kuwait, over 1,70,000 Indians were airlifted and repatriated to India.
POLITY (Articles or Sections in News)
Lokayukta Controversy in Kerela
- In News : Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan on 7th Feb signed a controversial ordinance to amend the Kerala Lokayukta Act 1999 curtailing powers of the anti-corruption body (Lokayukta).
- The amendment removes the section 14 of Kerela Lokayukta act 1999.
What was section 14 of Kerela Lokayukta act 1999 ?
- Under section 14, a public servant was required to vacate the office immediately if indicted by Lokayukta. It means the orders of Lokayukta were binding on the government.
How this removal of section 14 affects the powers of Lokayukta ?
- The orders of Lokayukta will no longer be binding on the government. In other words, It has become only recommendatory authority, not mandatory jurisdiction. The Government can “either accept or reject the verdict of the Lokayukta.
- Other amendment : The Ordinance has also amended the requirement of appointing retired Supreme Court judges or former Chief Justice as LokAyukta and allowed the appointment of retired High Court judges to the post.
What is Lokayukta
- The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States. These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
- They perform the function of an “ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
- When the 2013 Act was passed, Lokayuktas were already functioning in some states – including in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka where they were very active.
Hijab controversy : Freedom of religion and attire
Recently, six students were banned from entering a college in Karnataka’s Udupi district for wearing a hijab. The issue throws up legal questions on reading the freedom of religion and whether the right to wear a hijab is constitutionally protected or not.
How is religious freedom protected under the Constitution?
- Article 25(1) of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion. It is a right that guarantees negative liberty — which means that the state shall ensure that there is no interference or obstacle to exercising this freedom.
- However, like all fundamental rights, the state can restrict the right for grounds of public order, decency, morality, health and other state interests.
What is the Supreme Court’s view on Religious Freedom?
- The Supreme Court has evolved a practical test of sorts to determine what religious practices can be constitutionally protected and what can be ignored.
- In the Shirur Mutt case in 1954, the doctrine of “essentiality” was invented by the Supreme Court. The court held that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion, and took upon itself the responsibility of determining the essential and non-essential practices of a religion.
- The essential religious practice test is a contentious doctrine evolved by the court to protect only such religious practices which were essential and integral to the religion.
Where did the Supreme Court apply the essential religious practices test?
- In 2004, the Supreme Court held that the Ananda Marga sect had no fundamental right to perform the Tandava dance in public streets since it did not constitute an essential religious practice of the sect.
- In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the discharge of a Muslim airman from the Indian Air Force for keeping a beard. The court essentially held that keeping a beard was not an essential part of Islamic practices. What are the court’s rulings on Hijab?
- In Amna Bint Basheer v Central Board of Secondary Education (2016), the Kerala High Court held that the practice of wearing a hijab constitutes an essential religious practise but did not quash the dress code prescribed by CBSE. It rather provided additional safeguards, such as examining students wearing full sleeves when needed.
- In Fathima Tasneem v State of Kerala (2018), Kerala HC held that collective rights of an institution would be given primacy over the individual rights of the petitioner.
Section 498A of IPC (Domestic violence)
- In news : The Supreme Court in a recent judgement highlighted the growing misuse of Section 498A IPC, with friction rising in marriages.
- Section 498A of IPC , which was passed by the Parliament in 1983, states that “whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine’.
- Note : Government in 2015 even attempted to make the offence compoundable. Making the dowry law compoundable was also among the recommendations made by the Law Commission and the Justice Malimath Committee. Various courts, including the Supreme Court, have over the years called Section 498A as being prone to abuse
- Compoundable offence : Compoundable offences are those that can be compromised, i.e. the complainant can agree to take back the charges levied against the accused, whereas, non – compoundable offences are the more serious offences in which the parties cannot compromise.
Karnataka High Court removes ban on Online Gaming
- The Karnataka High Court has delivered a judgement striking down major portions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021. This law was introduced to ban online gambling and skill-based gaming platforms like rummy, poker and fantasy sports that involved risking money on an uncertain event.
- Apart from Karnataka, a similar law introduced by the Tamil Nadu government was struck down by the Madras High Court in August 2021.
Online Gaming in India
- According to a report, the number of online gamers in India grew from ~250 million gamers in 2018 to ~400 million gamers by the mid of 2020. The main factors that contributed to their growth include technology infrastructure development and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Why the States are banning Online Gaming in India?
- States are banning online games as they believe that online games like rummy and poker are addictive in nature.
- Reportedly, there have been instances where youngsters, faced with mounting debts due to losses in online games, have committed other crimes like theft and murder.
Why are High Courts striking down the ban on Online Gaming?
- The High Courts of several States have struck down the ban on Online Gaming on three grounds: a) violation of fundamental rights of trade and commerce, b) liberty and privacy, c) speech and expression.
- The court held that games, where substantial effort, knowledge and skills are required, are different from games of mere luck or chance.
The High Court also relied upon previous judgements of the Supreme Court, which had held rummy, fantasy sports and betting on horse racing to be games of skill. What is the solution then for Online Gaming?
- An outright ban may not entirely curtail the playing of such online games. Instead, the users will shift to grey or illegal offshore online gaming apps.
- This not only results in loss of tax revenue for the State and job opportunities for locals, but results in users being unable to avail remedies for any unfair behaviour or refusal to pay out winnings.
- Hence, instead of a complete ban, the state could look at licensing and regulating the industry with various checks and balances.
Nepal to adopt India’s UPI system
- Nepal will be the first country to adopt India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system.
- UPI will help modernize Nepal’s digital payment infrastructure and bring the convenience of digital payments to citizens of Nepal. NPCI International Payments Ltd (NIPL), the international arm of NPCI, has joined hands with Gateway Payments Service (GPS) and Manam Infotech to provide the services in Nepal.
- UPI is an instant real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) facilitating inter-bank peer-to-peer (P2P) and personto- merchant (P2M) transactions.
- NPCI is an umbrella organisation for all digital payments. The interface is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform.
Reverse Repo Normalisation
- In news : State Bank of India, in a recent report, has stated that it believes the stage is set for a Reverse Repo Normalisation in India.
- Reverse repo normalisation simply means the rise in the reverse repo rate. It is conducted in one or more stages to remove excess liquidity from the market. The main goal of reverse repo normalisation is to curb rising inflation in an economy. It also leads to increase in interest rate across the services in the whole economy, thus it becomes costlier to borrow any kind of loans and more profitable to park money in the bank accounts or FD/RD.
How this increase in Reverse Repo will help in curbing inflation ?
- Higher Reverse Repo means Commercial banks will get better interest rates if lending their money to RBI. These commercial banks in turn take money from Public ( which mainly deposits in FD / RD and other accounts). So if Reverse Repo gets higher, the commercial banks, in order to take money from public will also increase deposit rates and the Public will be encouraged in parking their funds with the banks. In these situations, if the deposit rates become higher, the lending ( loan to public) will also become higher. So, this increase in lending rate (loans) will make it costlier for businesses to borrow fresh loans. Once people deposit their extra money with banks and businesses also refuse to take fresh loans ( due to high interest rate), the liquidity will be absorbed from the market and hence helps in controlling inflation.
400 new Vande Bharat trains
- In the Union Budget for 2022-2023, the Finance Minister has proposed the development and manufacture of 400 new Vande Bharat trains in the next three years. About Vande Bharat Express:
- The Train18, later named Vande Bharat Express, was rolled out by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai under the Indian government’s Make in India initiative.
- The train was launched on 15 February 2019.
- It was showcased as India’s first semi high-speed train with an operational efficiency of 160 kmph.
- Presently, Indian Railways operates two Vande Bharat trains, one from Delhi to Varanasi and the other from Delhi to Katra.
- Vande Bharat trains are self-propelled “engineless” train sets.
- Its faster acceleration and deceleration results in reduced train travel time.
J&K becomes first UT to be integrated with National Single Window System (NSWS)
- Jammu & Kashmir became the first Union Territory to be onboarded the National Single Window System(NSWS).
- The National Single Window System(NSWS) was launched in 2021 by the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry. It is a digital platform that serves as a guide for investors to identify and apply for approvals as per their business requirements. The platform eliminates the need for investors to visit multiple platforms/offices to gather information and obtain clearances from different stakeholders.
- The Know Your Approval (KYA) module on NSWS guides investors to identify approvals required for their business based on a dynamic intuitive questionnaire.
- Twenty Ministries / Departments have been integrated into NSWS including the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare amongst others.
14 States/UTs onboarded on NSWS include Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Fair and remunerative price (FRP)
- The Maharashtra government has issued a government resolution which will allow sugar mills to pay the basic fair and remunerative price (FRP) in two tranches.
- The first installment would have to be paid within 14 days of delivery of cane, and would be as per the average recovery of the district.
- Farmers would get the second installment within 15 days of the closure of the mill after calculation of the final recovery, which would take into account the sugar produced, and the ethanol produced from ‘B heavy’ or ‘C’ molasses.
- Sugar mill owners have welcomed the move. However, farmers are not happy with it.
What is the FRP?
- FRP is the price declared by the government, which mills are legally bound to pay to farmers for the cane procured from them. The payment of FRP across the country is governed by The Sugarcane Control order, 1966. It mandates payment within 14 days of the date of delivery of the cane.
How is FRP decided?
- The FRP is based on the recovery of sugar from the cane. For the sugar season of 2021-22, FRP has been fixed at Rs 2,900/tonne at a base recovery of 10 per cent.
- Sugar recovery is the ratio between sugar produced versus cane crushed, expressed as a percentage.
- The higher the recovery, the higher is the FRP, and higher is the sugar produced.
- It is announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on the basis of recommendation of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)
- Note : CCEA is chaired by the Prime Minister of India.
- The FRP is based on the Rangarajan Committee report on reorganizing the sugarcane industry.
Significance of FRP:
- Assured payment is one of the major reasons why cane is a popular crop with farmers.
- Delays in payment can attract an interest up to 15 per cent per annum, and the sugar commissioner can recover unpaid FRP as dues in revenue recovery by attaching properties of the mills. Why are farmers in Maharashtra protesting?
- Farmers argue that this method would impact their incomes. They point out that while FRP will be paid in installments, and will depend on an unknown variable, their bank loans and other expenses are expected to be paid for as usual.
- Also, farmers mostly require a lumpsum at the beginning of the season (October-November), because their next crop cycle depends on it.
Saffron Bowl Project
- North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) under Saffron Bowl project has identified few locations in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for saffron cultivation.
Saffron Cultivation in North East
- Saffron production has long been restricted to a limited geographical area in the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
- In 2020, the Kashmir saffron got Geographical Indication (GI) tag status.
- However, the saffron bowl which was so far confined to Kashmir is being expanded to the Northeast as the North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) has launched the Saffron Bowl Project to explore the feasibility of growing saffron in the region with the same quality.
- NECTAR has identified few locations in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for saffron cultivation..
- Note : NECTAR is an autonomous society set up under the Department of Science & Technology.
(Headquarters: Shillong, Meghalaya).
- Note : Saffron is a plant whose dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It is a very precious and costly product. In ancient Sanskrit literature, saffron is referred to as ‘bahukam’. It is cultivated and harvested in the Karewa (highlands) of Jammu and Kashmir. It rejuvenates health and is used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes. It has been associated with traditional Kashmiri cuisine and represents the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Reduction in AIDC for Crude Palm Oil (CPO)
- The central government has reduced Agricultural Infrastructure Development Cess (AIDC) for Crude Palm Oil (CPO) from 7.5% to 5% with effect from 12th February, 2022. How will this Step be Beneficial?
- This decision is in view to provide further relief to consumers and to keep in check any further rise in the prices of domestic edible oils due to rise in the prices of edible oils globally.
After reduction of the agri-cess, the import tax gap between CPO (Crude Palm Oil) and Refined Palm Oil has increased to 8.25%.
- The increase in the gap between the CPO and Refined Palm Oil will benefit the domestic refining industry to import Crude Oil for refining.
- Palm Oil : Palm oil is currently the world’s most consumed vegetable oil. It is used extensively in the production of detergents, plastics, cosmetics, and biofuels. Top consumers of the commodity are India, China, and the European Union (EU).
- Prime Minister of India flagged off 100 Kisan drones as a part of the “Drone Kisan Yatra” with the aim to promote chemical-free farming in India.
What is a Kisan drone?
- It will have an unmanned tank filled with insecticides and nutrients. The drones are expected to have a high capacity of 5 to 10kg. The drone will spray the same amount of pesticide on about one acre of land in just 15 minutes. The drones have been manufactured by Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace, a home-grown start-up. Expected implications of the move
- This will save time, will require less effort and spraying will be done uniformly. They will also be used to carry vegetables, fruits, fish, etc to the markets from the farms. These items will be supplied directly to the market with minimal damage, consuming lesser time, resulting in more profits to farmers and fishermen. The development of these drones on a large scale is expected to bring new employment opportunities for the youth.
- Kisan Drones will be used to boost the agricultural sector in the country. Kisan drones will be used for crop assessment, digitization of land records, and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
- This step was taken as the government aims to promote chemical-free national farming.
Significance/ Benefits of Drone Technology
- the drones will be used for mapping, disaster management, land survey, mining, monitoring of works, and agricultural pesticide spraying among others.
- It will also check indiscriminate use of pesticides as drones ensured uniform spraying covering every inch of the crop.
- The drone could determine how much pesticide the crop required for a given crop size.
- The Union Minister of State has said that the government was planning to commence ‘Purple Revolution’ in Ramban district in Jammu and Kashmir. Purple Revolution
- Purple or Lavender Revolution was launched by the Union Ministry of Science & Technology through the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Aroma Mission.
- Aim: To increase lavender cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Objective: To empower domestic farmers and support India’s aromatic crop-based agro-economy by reducing imports of aromatic oils and increasing home-grown varieties.
- Under the mission, first-time farmers were given free lavender saplings, while those who had cultivated lavender before were charged Rs. 5-6 per sapling.
- Aroma Mission : It was launched in 2016 to boost cultivation of plants like lavender which have aromatic medicinal properties through new technology developed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
India has the Opportunity to Export more Wheat
- The Russia-Ukraine conflict may give India an opportunity to ship more wheat in the global markets.
- More than a quarter of the world’s wheat export comes from Russia and Ukraine.
- Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, accounting for more than 18% of international exports.
- In 2019, Russia and Ukraine together exported more than a quarter (25.4 %) of the world’s wheat.
- The top five countries that exported the highest dollar-value worth of wheat include Russia > United States > Canada > France > Ukraine.
- Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat.
- Turkey is also a big spender on Russian and Ukrainian wheat with 74% of its imports coming from those two countries in 2019.
- India is the second largest producer of wheat with a share of around 13.5% of world total production.
- India produces around 107.59 MT of wheat annually while a major chunk of it goes towards domestic consumption.
- India accounts for even less than 1% in world wheat export. However, its share has increased from 0.14% in 2016 to 0.54% in 2020.
- Presently, India’s central pool stands at 24.2 million tonnes, twice more than the buffer and strategic needs.
HISTORY, ART AND CULTURE
216-feet ‘Statue of Equality’ in Hyderabad
- Statue of Equality is a 216-foot-tall statue dedicated to 11th-century social reformer and saint, Ramanujacharya. The statue is in a sitting position.
- It is composed of ‘panchaloha’, a combination of five metals comprising gold, silver, copper, brass, and zinc. The statue will be the second-highest sitting statue in the world [the tallest is the Great Buddha in Thailand at 302 ft].
- The statue is mounted on a 54-feet high base building named ‘Bhadra Vedi’. It has floors devoted for a vedic digital library and research center, ancient Indian texts, a theater, an educational gallery detailing many works of Sri Ramanujacharya.
Who was Ramanujacharya?
- Sri Ramanujacharya was born in 1017 in SriPerumbudur, Tamil Nadu. He was one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. He is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta. He was also referred to as Ilaya Perumal, which means the radiant one. He worked tirelessly against casteism and social hierarchies, proclaiming that all living beings had the right to Realization. He emphasized on equality of people. He wrote nine works that came to be known as the Navratnas including three major commentaries, the Vedartha-Sangraha, the Sribhasya and the Bhagavadgita-bhasya aimed at providing a philosophical foundation for devotional worship. His greatest contribution is the propagation of the concept of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, which translates as “all the universe is one family”.
The three days long Torgya Festival of the Monpa tribal community of Arunachal Pradesh is celebrated at Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh. The main attraction of the festival is the ‘Sha-na Cham’, the ritual dance performed by monks to showcase the Choe-Gyal Yap & Yum Tsa-Munde deity.
Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation on the occasion of the birth anniversary of legendary classical vocalist late Pandit Jasraj.
- Pandit Jasraj was an Indian classical vocalist, belonging to the Mewati gharana (musical apprenticeship lineage). He received several accolades including the prestigious Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
- He passed away at the age of 90 on August 17, 2020.
“Chauri Chaura” centenary celebration
- The Prime Minister has inaugurated the Chauri Chaura centenary celebrations at Chauri Chaura in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
- The Chauri Chaura incident took place on 4 February 1922 at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province (Uttar Pradesh) in British India when the volunteers participating in the Non Cooperation Movement (NCM) led by Bhagwan Ahir clashed with police, who opened fire. In retaliation, the demonstrators attacked and set the police station on fire. It killed all inside the station. The incident led to the death of three civilians and 22 policemen.
- Impact: Mahatma Gandhi was strictly against violence. He convinced the Congress Working Committee and on 12th February, 1922, the satyagraha (movement) was formally suspended. Consequence: It resulted in disillusionment among many younger Indian nationalists that India would not be able to end colonial rule through nonviolence.
- Hence, after this incident many revolutionaries had arisen— Jogesh Chatterjee, Ramprasad Bismil, Sachin Sanyal, Ashfaqulla Khan, Jatin Das, Bhagat Singh, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Masterda Surya Sen, and many others.
Medaram Jathara Festival : Koya Tribe, Tlangana
Medaram Jatara is a tribal festival of honouring the goddesses Sammakka and Saralamma celebrated in the state of Telangana, India. It is celebrated once in two years in the month of “Magha” (February) on the full moon day. It is the second-largest fair of India, after the Kumbh Mela, celebrated by the second-largest Tribal Community of Telangana- the Koya tribe for four days. It is a festival with no vedic or Brahmanic influence. It is organized by the Koyas in collaboration with the Tribal Welfare Department, Government of Telangana.
- The Prime Minister paid tributes to Maharaja Surajmal on his birth anniversary.
- Maharaja Surajmal ruled in the 18th century and was the son of the Jat chieftain Badan Singh. He was a great leader, a great fighter, a great diplomat and a great statesman of his time. He was described as “the Plato of the Jat people” and by a modern writer as the “Jat Odysseus”, because of his political sense, steady intellect and clear vision. He visualized “India as one nation” and devoted his life in forging national integration.
- He established the Bharatpur town in the year 1743. He fortified the city by building a massive wall around the city.
- Under him, the Jat rule covered the present-day national capital Delhi and other various districts.
Lohagarh Fort ( Bharatpur, Rajasthan) : Built in the 18th century by Raja Suraj Mal. It is the only fort in India that no one in history has won. Lohagarh Fort is considered one of the strongest forts because the British could not capture it in spite of several attacks.
- Maharaja Surajmal was among those who played key roles in the 3rd battle of Panipat.
- He was killed in an ambush by the Rohilla troops on the night of 25 December 1763 near Hindon River, Shahdara, Delhi.
Tarapur massacre, Bihar
- Recently, Bihar Chief Minister has announced that 15th February would be commemorated as “Shahid Diwas” in memory of the 34 freedom fighters who were killed by police in Tarapur town (now subdivision) of Bihar’s Munger district 90 years ago. The Tarapur massacre was the biggest carried out by the British police after the one in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919.
Events in Tarapur
- On 15th February, 1932, a group of young freedom fighters planned to hoist an Indian national flag at Thana Bhawan in Tarapur. Police were aware of the plan, and several officers were present at the spot. A 4,000-strong crowd pelted the police with stones, injuring an officer of the civil administration. The police responded by opening indiscriminate fire on the crowd. After about 75 rounds were fired, 34 bodies were found at the spot, even though there were claims of an even larger number of deaths. But only 13 of the dead could be identified. Cause of Protest :
- People’s resentment due to o The hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru in Lahore on 23th March, 1931, sent a wave of grief and anger around the country.
- Following the collapse of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, the Mahatma was arrested in early 1932.
PM pays tributes to Lachit Borphukan
- Indian President will inaugurate a year-long celebration of the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Borphukan.
- Earlier, The Prime Minister has paid tributes to Lachit Borphukan on the occasion of Lachit Divas in Nov 2021 when he called Lachit Borphukan a symbol of India’s “Atmanirbhar military might”.
- Note: Assam celebrates Lachit Divas on November 24 as a tribute to Borphukan valour and heroism.
Who was Lachit Borphukan?
- Lachit Borphukan was a commander/General in the erstwhile Ahom kingdom.
- He is known for his leadership in the 1671 Battle of Saraighat that thwarted (blocked) an attempt by Mughal forces to capture Assam. The battle of Saraighat was fought on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati.
- He defeated the Mughal Army by brilliant uses of the terrain, guerrilla tactics, clever diplomatic negotiations to buy time, military intelligence and by exploiting the sole weakness of the Mughal forces—its navy. What is the significance of Lachit Borphukan?
- Lachit Borphukan was the inspiration behind strengthening India’s naval force and revitalising inland water transport and creating infrastructure associated with it due to his great naval strategies.
- The Lachit Borphukan gold medal is awarded to the best cadet from the National Defence Academy.The medal was instituted in 1999 to inspire defence personnel to emulate Borphukan’s heroism and sacrifices.
- Recently, the Union Culture Minister inaugurated Devayatanam, a one-of-a-kind conference on temple architecture of India, at Hampi, Karnataka.
- It is a part of the celebration under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and is being organized on 25th-26th February by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) of the Ministry of Culture.
APPOINTMENTS and RESIGNATIONS
Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari
- 51st Chief Justice of Madras High Court.
- Note : The Madras High Court, officially renamed High Court of Tamil Nadu, is the second oldest High Court of India after the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata.
Lieutenant General GAV Reddy
- Head of the Defence Intelligence Agency.
Ravi Chopra Resigned
- Veteran environmentalist Ravi Chopra has resigned as chairman of the Supreme Court’s High Powered Committee (HPC) on the Char Dham project. His belief that the HPC could protect this fragile (Himalayan) ecology has been shattered.
- Note : The strategic 900-km-long Char Dham project worth ₹12,000 crore aims to provide all weather connectivity to four holy towns – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – in
- Chairman of the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) for the next 2 years.
- About IRSG : IRSG is the inter-governmental organisation of natural rubber (NR) and synthetic rubber (SR) producing and consuming countries. Its main objective is to improve the transparency of the world rubber market and strengthen the international cooperation on rubber issues.
- Formed: 1944 ; Headquarters: Singapore
G Ashok Kumar , Vice Admiral (retd)
- Appointed as India’s first ‘National Maritime Security Coordinator’ (NMSC).
- Vineet Joshi, additional secretary in the Ministry of Education, has been assigned the charge of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) chairperson.
- Former Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci has been appointed as the CEO & MD of Air India.
- Chairperson of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI).
- About IBBI : it is the regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities like Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP) and Information Utilities (IU) in India. It was established on 1 October 2016 and given statutory powers through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which was passed by Lok Sabha on 5 May 2016.
Santishree Dhulipadi Pandit
- Appointed as first woman Vice-Chancellor of New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by the Ministry of Education(MoE).
- Chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC).
- Earlier served as Vice-Chancellor of JNU (now succeeded by Santishree Dhulipadi Pandit).
Dinesh Prasad Saklani
- A Professor from HNB Garhwal University, appointed as the new director of NCERT.
Dr. Madan Mohan Tripathi
- Director General of National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology (NIELIT).
- Note : NIELIT is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India.
Lt Gen Manoj Pande
- He took over as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff from Lt Gen CP Mohanty who superannuated on 31 January 2022.
- Chairman, Staff Selection Commission (SSC).
Xiomara Castro : sworn in as first female President of Honduras. Antonio Costa : re-elected as Prime Minister of Portugal
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
India becomes first country to administer COVID-19 DNA vaccine
- India has become the first country in the world to administer a DNA vaccine against COVID-19. The ZyCoV-D which is the World’s first plasmid DNA vaccine has been produced by Ahmedabad-based vaccine manufacturer Zydus Cadila and it was administered for the first time in Patna.
- It is a Painless and Needleless vaccine given at intervals of 28 days and 56 days.
- It is the second India-made vaccine to get emergency authorization in India after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Geomagnetic storm destroyed Starlink satellite
- Dozens of Satellites that were part of the Starlink Project were caught in a geomagnetic storm a day after they were launched. This is being described as an unusual and huge event, as around 40 satellites, most of a single launch batch, were lost in a single solar event.
What are Geomagnetic or Solar storms?
Solar storms are magnetic plasma ejected at great speed from the solar surface. They occur during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots (‘dark’ regions on the Sun that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere), and can last for a few minutes or hours.
- The recent storm that caused this loss was was unusual, an unexpectedly extended event and of a kind not seen in the recent past. As the latter part of the storm, with its high density core, possessed speeds higher than what was recorded during the storm’s arrival.
- Starlink : Elon Musk’s Starlink is a SpaceX project to build a broadband network with a cluster of orbiting spacecraft that could eventually number thousands.
- Scientists in the United Kingdom said they have achieved a new milestone in producing nuclear fusion energy, or imitating the way energy is produced in the sun.
- Energy by nuclear fusion is one of mankind’s long standing quests as it promises to be low carbon, safer than how nuclear energy is now produced and, with an efficiency that can technically exceed a 100%.
- A team at the Joint European Torus (JET) facility near Oxford in central England generated 59 megajoules of sustained energy during an experiment in December, more than doubling a 1997 record, the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority said.
- A kilogram of fusion fuel contains about 10 million times as much energy as a kilogram of coal, oil or gas. The energy was produced in a machine called a tokamak, a doughnut-shaped apparatus. The JET site is the largest operational one of its kind in the world.
- Deuterium and tritium, which are isotopes of hydrogen, are heated to temperatures 10 times hotter than the centre of the sun to create plasma. This is held in place using superconductor electromagnets as it spins around, fuses and releases tremendous energy as heat.
- The record and scientific data from these crucial experiments are a major boost for the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), the larger and more advanced version of the JET. The ITER is a fusion research mega-project supported by seven members — China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. — and based in the south of France. It seeks to further demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.
- Three persons have died of Lassa fever in the UK. The cases have been linked to travel to West African countries.
- About: The Lassa fever-causing virus is found in West Africa and was first discovered in 1969 in Lassa, Nigeria.
- Spread: The fever is spread by rats and is primarily found in countries in West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria where it is endemic. Human beings can transmit the virus to each other through contact with infected bodily fluids.
- Symptoms: Slight fever, fatigue, weakness and headache and more serious symptoms include bleeding, difficulty breathing, vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen and shock.
- Prevention & Treatment: The best way to avoid getting infected is to avoid contact with rats. o Ribavirin, an antiviral drug, has been used to successfully treat Lassa fever in patients.
Earth Observation Satellite EOS-04
- Recently, ISRO’s earth observation satellite EOS-04 and two small satellites (INSPIREsat-1 and INS-2TD) were successfully placed into the intended orbit by the PSLV-C52 rocket.
- This launch was the 54th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, and the 23rd of its most powerful XL-version that has six strap-on boosters.
- Earth Observation Satellites : Earth observation satellites are the satellites equipped with remote sensing technology. Earth observation is the gathering of information about Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems. Many earth observation satellites have been employed on sun-synchronous orbit. Other earth observation satellites launched by ISRO include RESOURCESAT- 2, 2A, CARTOSAT-1, 2, 2A, 2B, RISAT-1 and 2, OCEANSAT-2, MeghaTropiques, SARAL and SCATSAT-1, INSAT-3DR, 3D, etc.
What is EOS-04?
- EOS-04 is the fourth in the series of earth observation satellites.
- It is a Radar Imaging Satellite. It weighs about 1710 kg and will be placed in a sun-synchronous polar orbit.
- The satellite is designed to provide high-quality images under all weather conditions for applications such as agriculture, forestry and plantations, soil moisture & hydrology, and flood mapping.
- The satellite will complement the data from Resourcesat, Cartosat and RISAT-2B series of satellites that are already in orbit.
What about earlier EOS Satellites?
- EOS-01: It was launched in 2020. It is in orbit right now.
- EOS-02: It is yet to be launched. It is a microsatellite to be flown on a new launch vehicle called SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle).
- EOS-03: It ended in a failure in August 2021.
What are the other satellites launched with EOS-04?
- INSPIREsat-1: It is a student satellite developed by the Thiruvananthapuram-based Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in collaboration with the University of Colorado in the United States. This satellite will study the dynamics of the upper atmosphere and carries an X-ray spectrometer for studying solar flares.
- INS-2TD: It is a technology demonstrator for the first India-Bhutan joint satellite that is scheduled to be launched in March 2022. The INS-2TD has a thermal imaging camera meant for earth observation purposes, like the assessment of land and water surface temperature and identification of forest and tree cover.
How many satellites does India have currently in space?
- India currently has 53 operational satellites, of which 21 are earth observation ones and another 21 are communicationbased. The other eight are navigation satellites while the remaining three are science satellites.
Indian Neutrino Observatory Project
- Tamil Nadu has conveyed to the Supreme Court that it does not want the Indian Neutrino Observatory (INO) to be set up in a sensitive ecological zone in the Western Ghats.
- The India–based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is a proposed Pure-Science underground laboratory. Its primary goal is to study the properties and interactions of
- The observatory is jointly supported by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science & Technology (DST) with DAE acting as the nodal agency.
- The proposed site of the observatory is in Bodi West Hills, in Theni district. The site is spread across Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- The proposed project area links the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala with Srivilliputhur Meghamalai Tiger Reserve.
- Quarrying and construction activities will upset wild animals which use the corridor for seasonal migrations.
- Recently, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru installed the supercomputer ‘Param Pravega’. It has a supercomputing capacity of 3 petaflops.
- It has been installed under the government’s National Supercomputing Mission. The National Supercomputing Mission is intended to indigenise the development and manufacturing of powerful computers.
- In 2015, the National Supercomputing Mission was launched to enhance the research capacities and capabilities in the country by connecting them to form a Supercomputing grid, with National Knowledge Network (NKN) as the backbone.
What is a Supercomputer?
- A supercomputer is a computer that performs at or near the currently highest operational rate for computers.
- Generally, PETAFLOP is a measure of a Supercomputer’s processing speed and can be expressed as a thousand trillion floating point operations per second. Other facts :
- Globally, China has the maximum number of supercomputers and maintains the top position in the world, followed by the US, Japan, France, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
- India’s first supercomputer was PARAM 8000.
- PARAM Shivay, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, was installed in IIT (BHU), followed by PARAM Shakti, PARAM Brahma, PARAM Yukti, PARAM Sanganak at IIT-Kharagpur, IISER, Pune, JNCASR, Bengaluru and IIT Kanpur respectively.
- In 2020, PARAM Siddhi, the High-Performance Computing-Artificial Intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer, achieved global ranking of 62nd in Top 500 most powerful supercomputer systems in the world.
Quantum Key Distribution Technology
- Recently, a joint team of scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, for the first time in the country successfully demonstrated Quantum Key Distribution link between Prayagraj and Vindhyachal in Uttar Pradesh, a distance of more than 100 kilometres.
- Note : The technological breakthrough of demonstrating a QKD Link was achieved over the commercial-grade optical fibre already available in the field.
- With this success, the country has demonstrated indigenous technology of secure key transfer for bootstrapping military grade communication security key hierarchy.
- Earlie, China’s satellite Micius had sent light particles to Earth to establish the world’s most secure communication link. What is Quantum Key Distribution Technology?
- QKD, also called Quantum Cryptography, is a mechanism to develop secure communication.
- It provides a way of distributing and sharing secret keys that are necessary for cryptographic protocols.
- Cryptography is the study of secure communications techniques that allow only the sender and intended recipient of a message to view its contents. Cryptographic algorithms and protocols are necessary to keep a system secure, particularly when communicating through an untrusted network such as the Internet. The conventional cryptosystems used for data-encryption rely on the complexity of mathematical algorithms, whereas the security offered by quantum communication is based on the laws of Physics.
National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing (3 D Printing) Policy
- Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) unveiled the National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing Policy.
- The policy aims to increase India’s share in global additive manufacturing to 5% within the next three years and add USD 1 billion to the gross domestic product.
Singapore Air Show 2022
- A 44 member contingent of the Indian Air Force (IAF) reached Changi International Airport in Singapore to participate in the Singapore Air Show-2022, slated for February 15 to 18.
- The IAF will be pitching the indigenous Tejas MK-I ac alongside participants from across the world.
- The Tejas is an Indian fighter jet developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy in collaboration with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). Tejas was the result of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme that began in the 1980s to replace IAF’s ageing MiG-21 fighters.
- The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by HAL.
Philippines to buy BrahMos shore-based anti-ship missile system from India for $374.96 million
- The Philippines wants to induct this missile amid tensions with China over the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
- Several countries have shown interest in acquiring the BrahMos missile. For example, discussions are in advanced stages with Indonesia and Thailand.
- Note : The 290 km range supersonic BrahMos missile has been jointly developed with Russia and is produced in India.
Indian Coast Guard
On 1st February 2022, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) celebrated its 46th Raising Day. ICG was established in August 1978 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978 as an independent Armed force of India. As the fourth largest Coast Guard in the world, it has played a significant role in securing the Indian coasts and enforcing regulations in the maritime zones of India.
MK III aircraft
- The indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) MK III aircraft was formally inducted at INS Utkrosh at Port Blair.
- The ALH MK III aircraft is manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and represents a tremendous leap towards self-reliance in the field of military aircraft, in line with the government’s push towards ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
- Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has delivered the 12th P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft to the Indian Navy. The P-8I is an integral part of the Indian Navy’s fleet and has surpassed 35,000 flight hours since it was inducted in 2013.”
- The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet. It is a long-range, multimission maritime patrol aircraft and India was its first international customer.
- In November 2019, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement and the US has approved its sale and related equipment. In May 2021, the US State Department approved the proposed sale of six P-8I patrol aircraft and related equipment, a deal estimated to cost 2.42 billion dollars.
- the six P-8Is will come installed with encrypted communication systems since India has now signed the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the U.S.
- Features: the P-8I aircraft is equipped for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of the broad area, maritime and littoral operations.
- With its high speed and high endurance of about 10 hours, the aircraft is capable of thrusting a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest.
Exercise Eastern Bridge VI
- Recently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Royal Air Force of Oman began a five-day bilateral exercise at the Jodhpur air force station. The exercise is named Eastern Bridge VI, as is in its sixth edition.
- Oman is the only country in the Gulf region with which all three services of the Indian armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises and staff talks, enabling close cooperation and trust at the professional level.
- Naseem Al-Bahr is the naval exercise conducted between both the countries.
- AL Nagah is the joint exercise between the armies of two countries. o Eastern Bridge is the joint exercise between the air forces of two countries.
Ex Cobra Warrior 22
- Indian Air Force will participate in a multi-nation air exercise named ‘Ex Cobra Warrior 22’ at Waddington, the UK from 06 to 27 March 2022.
- IAF Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will participate in the exercise along with fighter aircraft of the UK and other leading Air Forces. The exercise is aimed at providing operational exposure and sharing best practices amongst the participating Air Forces, thereby enhancing combat capability and forging bonds of friendship.
- About Ex Cobra Warrior 22: It is one of the largest annual Royal Air Force exercises (United Kingdom) and aims to train both pilots and other air specialists in planning and executing complex airborne missions.
- Other Joint Exercises between India and the UK:
- Navy: Konkan o Air Force: Indradhanush
- Army: Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR
“EX DHARMA GUARDIAN-2022”
The third edition of the joint military exercise “EX DHARMA GUARDIAN-2022” between India and Japan will be conducted from 27 February to 10 March 2022, at Belagavi (Belgaum), Karnataka.
RANKING AND REPORTS
International Intellectual Property Index 2022
- Recently, India has improved its overall International Intellectual Property (IIP) score from 38.4% to 38.6%, and the country is ranked 43rd out of 55 countries on the International Intellectual Property Index.
- International Intellectual Property Index is an annual report compiled by the US Chambers of Commerce.
- This year (2022) the index is topped by the US with 95.4%.
India ranked 46th out of 167 in EIU’s Democracy Index 2021
- According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), India has ranked 46th position in the 2021 Democracy Index’s global ranking. India scored 6.91 to rank 46th on the Index.
- With the highest score of 9.75, Norway topped the Democracy Index. New Zealand & Finland stood 2nd and 3 Afghanistan occupies the bottom place in the index.
Hurun India Wealth Report 2021 (second edition)
- The number of dollar-millionaire households in India has increased by 11% to 4,58,000 households compared to last year. These households have a net worth of at least INR 7 crore.
- The number of Indian dollar-millionaire households is estimated to increase by 30% over the next five years to reach 6,00,000 households by 2026.
- With 20,300 millionaires households, Mumbai is India’s millionaire capital, followed by Delhi and Kolkata with 17,400 and 10,500 millionaire households respectively.
Bloomberg Billionaires Index
- Gautam Adani net worth reached $88.5 billion overtaking Mukesh Ambani’s $87.9 billion becoming Asia’s richest person as on 8th February 2022.
- Globally Elon Musk was named as the world’s richest person with a total net worth of $235 Billion. He was followed by Jeff Bezos with a total net worth of $183 Billion & Bernard Arnault with a total net worth of $168 Billion.
SCHEMES and Programmes in News
- Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Dr. Virendra Kumar launched the Central Sector scheme “SMILE: Support for Marginalised Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise”.
- The two sub-schemes of SMILE – ‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons’ and ‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of engaged in the act of Begging’ – provide comprehensive welfare and rehabilitation measures to the Transgender community and the people engaged in the act of begging.
- The Ministry has allocated Rs. 365 Crore for the scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
“Operation AAHT” launched by Railway Protection Force (RPF)
Aim of Operation AAHT : to curb human trafficking.
- As part of the operation, special teams will be deployed on all long-distance trains/routes with focus on rescuing victims, particularly women and children, from the clutches of traffickers.
- The infrastructure and intelligence network of the RPF will be utilized to collect, collate and analyze clues on victims, source, route, destination, popular trains used by suspects, kingpins and shared with other law-enforcing agencies.
- Hence, the RPF could act as a bridge cutting across States to assist the local police in the mission to curb the menace of human trafficking.
- Note : about 60% of trafficking happens internally in countries. The National Crime Records Bureau registers about 2,200 cases of Human Trafficking cases on an average each year. The most affected state presently is West Bengal followed by Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam.
Home Delivery of medicines to begin from 1st Feb under SeHAT initiative
- In News : The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched services for home delivery of medicines for veterans and serving military personnel services under an online medical consultation platform named Services e-Health Assistance and Teleconsultation (SeHAT).
What is SeHAT Initiative?
- SeHAT initiative was launched by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 27th May 2021.
- It is the tri-services teleconsultation service of the Ministry of Defence designed for all entitled personnel and their families.
- SeHAT stay-home OPD is a patient-to-doctor system where the patient can consult a doctor remotely through the internet using his smartphone, laptop, desktop or tablet. This initiative aims to provide quality healthcare services to patients from the comfort of their homes. The consultation occurs through video, audio and chat at the same time. The user does not need to pay anything to seek teleconsultation & can simply access the services by visiting https://sehatopd.gov.in, or by using the SeHAT apps available on the Play store & App Stores.
- Note : SeHAT Stay Home OPD is based on the lines of eSanjeevani a similar free OPD service run by the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) for all citizens.
Parvatmala : National Ropeways Development Programme
- In Union Budget 2022-23, Union Finance Minister has announced that the National Ropeways Development Programme “Parvatmala” will be initiated through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
- Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH)
- Aim: To develop Ropeways in hilly areas of the country in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP)
- Around 8 ropeway projects for a length of 60 km would be awarded in 2022-23.
- The programme will also cover congested urban areas, where conventional mass transit systems are not feasible.
- The programme is being presently started in regions like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir and the other North-Eastern states.
Benefits of Ropeways?
- Economical mode of transportation: Given that ropeway projects are built in a straight line over hilly terrain, it results in lower land acquisition costs. Hence, despite having a higher cost of construction per km than roadways, ropeway projects construction cost may happen to be more economical than roadways.
- Faster mode of transportation: Owing to the aerial mode of transportation, ropeways have an advantage over roadway projects where ropeways can be built in a straight line, over a hilly terrain.
- Environmentally friendly: Low dust emissions. Material containers can be designed to rule out any soiling of the environment.
- Last-mile connectivity: Ropeway projects adopting 3S (a kind of cable car system) or equivalent technologies can transport 6000-8000 passengers per hour.
- Ideal for difficult/challenging/sensitive terrain: This mode of transportation will enable mobility to people living in difficult areas and help them become part of the mainstream.
- Flexible: Transport of different materials – A ropeway allows for the simultaneous transport of different types of material.
- Ability to handle large slopes: Ropeways and cableways (cable cranes) can handle large slopes and large differences in elevation. Where a road or railroad needs switchbacks or tunnels, a ropeway travels straight up and down the fall line.
Second phase of Vigyan Jyoti Programme
- Recently, the Vigyan Jyoti Programme was extended to 100 districts in its 2nd phase.
- Vigyan Jyoti Programme was launched by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology.
- Further, DST is working proactively to bring gender parity in Science & Technology (S&T) domain through various women-centric programmes.
- Vigyan Jyoti Programme aims to address the underrepresentation of women in different fields of Science
Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the country. As a first step, the “Vigyan Jyoti” has been introduced in the year 2019-20 at the school level wherein meritorious girl students of Class 9-12 are being encouraged to pursue higher education and career in STEM field.
- The Vigyan Jyoti envisaged hand-holding and interventions right from the school level i.e., Class IX and which will continue till the PhD level to encourage girls to pursue a career in underrepresented areas of STEM.
- The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), an autonomous organization of the Ministry of Education, is the implementation partner of Vigyan Jyoti. NVS has a network of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) in more than 600 districts of India.
Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) Scheme
- The Government has approved the scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) for continuation till
31.03.2026. It has been envisaged to support around 1600 projects under the new phase of the scheme.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) launched in October 2013.
- For funding the state government universities and colleges to achieve the aims of equity, access and excellence.
- Improve the overall quality of state institutions by conforming to the prescribed norms and standards.
- Promoting autonomy in state universities and improving governance in institutions.
- Ensure reforms in the affiliation, academic and examination system.
- Ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels of employment.
- Create an enabling atmosphere for research in the higher education system.
New phase of RUSA:
- It targets to reach out to the unserved, underserved areas; remote/ rural areas; difficult geographies; LWE areas; NER; aspirational districts, tier-2 cities, areas with low GER etc., and to benefit the most disadvantaged areas and SEDGs.
- State Governments will be supported for Gender inclusion, Equity Initiatives, ICT, Enhancing employability through vocationalisation & skill upgradation. States will also be supported for creation of new Model Degree Colleges.
Extension of “PM CARES Scheme” for Children
- Recently, the Centre has extended the PM Cares for Children Scheme till 28th February 2022, which was earlier valid till 31st December 2021.
What is the ‘PM-CARES for Children’ Scheme?
- The scheme was launched on 29th May, 2021 with the aim to support children who lost both or surviving parent(s), legal guardian/adoptive parents or single adoptive parent to Covid-19.
- The objective is to ensure comprehensive care and protection of children in a sustained manner, enable their wellbeing through health insurance, empower them through education and equip them for self-sufficient existence with financial support on reaching 23 years of age.
- The scheme offers a corpus of Rs. 10 lakh to each of these children from the PM CARES fund.
- This corpus will be used to give a monthly stipend from 18 years of their age, for the next five years and on reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use.
Continuation of “National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship (NMMSS)” for next five years
- The government has approved the continuation of the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship (NMMSS) for a period of five years i.e. from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
- Nodal Ministry: Launched in 2008-09 by Ministry of Education
- Type: Central Sector Scheme
- Aim: To award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to deter them from dropping out at class VIII and encourage them to continue their education at the secondary stage.
- Intended Beneficiaries: The scheme envisages the award of one lakh fresh scholarships every year to selected students of class IX and their continuation/renewal in classes X to XII for study in a State Government, Government-aided and Local body schools.
- Scholarship Amount: An amount of Rs. 12000 (Rs.1000/- per month) per student per annum.
- Selection of Students: Students are selected for award of scholarships through an examination conducted by the State/ UT Governments. Scholarships are disbursed directly into the bank accounts of students by electronic transfer through Public Financial Management System(PFMS) following DBT mode.
- Eligibility criteria to appear in selection test:
- Students whose parental income from all sources is not more than Rs.3.5 lakh per annum are eligible to avail of the scholarships.
- The student must have a minimum of 55 % marks or equivalent grade in the Class VII examination for appearing in the selection test for award of scholarship (relaxable by 5% for SC and ST students).
- The student should be studying as a regular student in Government, Government-aided and local body schools. Students of NVS, KVS and residential schools are not entitled to the scholarships.
Continuation of “Border Infrastructure and Management” (BIM)
- Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs has approved the continuation of the Central Sector Umbrella Scheme of
“Border Infrastructure and Management” (BIM) over the 15th Finance Commission Cycle from 2021-22 to 2025-26, at a cost of Rs.13,020 crore.
- The BIM scheme will help in the creation of infrastructure such as border fence, border flood lights, technological solutions, border roads and Border OutPosts (BOPs) and company operating bases to secure India’s borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. It will strengthen the border infrastructure for improving border management, policing and guarding the borders.
PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana
- In the three years, benefits under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) have been provided to about 11.78 Crore farmers and funds amounting to Rs 1.82 lakh crore in various installments have been released to the eligible beneficiaries of this scheme across India.
- It was launched on 24th February, 2019 to supplement financial needs of land holding farmers.
- Financial benefit of Rs 6000/- per year in three equal installments, every four month is transferred into the bank accounts of farmers’ families across the country through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
- The scheme was initially meant for Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs) having landholding upto 2 hectares but scope of the scheme was extended to cover all landholding farmers.
- It is a Central Sector Scheme with 100% funding from the Government of India.
- It is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- PM-KISAN Mobile App: It was developed and designed by the National Informatics Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- Physical Verification Module: A mandatory physical verification of 5% beneficiary every year is being done as per the provisions laid down in the scheme.
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will distribute 4,800 daily living aids and assistive devices among 895 senior citizen beneficiaries under Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY).
- RVY was launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- It is a central sector scheme funded from the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund. The fund was notified in the year 2016. All unclaimed amounts from small savings accounts, PPF and EPF are transferred to this fund.
- Aim: It aims to provide aids and assistive living devices to senior citizens belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category who suffer from age-related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disabilities.
BIODIVERSITY , ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY
‘Bomb cyclone’ hits eastern US What is a Bomb Cyclone :
- While “Bombogenesis is the technical term, ‘Bomb cyclone’ is the commonly used term.
- Bomb cyclone is like other cyclones having low pressure in the centre surrounded by higher pressure.
- Hurricanes are a type of Cyclones in American coast but how Hurricanes are different from Bomb Cyclone ?
Kakoijana Reserve Forest
- Kakoijana Reserve Forest is located in Bongaigaon district of Assam. It was constituted in the year 1966 as a reserve forest. The reserve is one of the better-known homes of the golden langur (Trachypithecus geei).
- Note: Golden langur is found only in Assam and Bhutan. It is listed in the world’s 25 most endangered primates.
- Why in news : Villagers in Assam’s Bongaigaon district have opposed a move by the State government to upgrade Kakoijana
Reserve Forest to a wildlife sanctuary because once the Kakoijana Reserve Forest is converted to a wildlife sanctuary, stricter rules will be applied and this will impact the customary and traditional practices and consequently result in villagers losing the rights over the forest.
- Instead, the villagers have demanded that the reserve forest should be converted into a community forest reserve using Forest Rights Act, 2006. This is because some of the areas inside the forest are sacred, and its sanctity should be maintained.
- Moreover, the villagers have also said that they can conserve the forest better. They pointed out that the conservation efforts by them had helped the authorities concerned to restore the forest canopy from less than 5% to more than 70%. This in turn helped increase the golden langur population from less than 100 to more than 600 over almost three decades.
- Protection Status of Golden Langur : o IUCN List of Threatened Species: Endangered o CITES: Appendix I
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule I
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule I
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (in News)
Imp fact : Located in Kerala, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It was established in 1973. Kabini river (a tributary of the Cauvery river) flows through the sanctuary.
Dholes or Asiatic wild dogs
- In news : As per a new study the presence of dholes is observed in the high mountains of Central Asia (Osh region of southern Kyrgyzstan ) nearly 30 years after their presence was last recorded.
- Note : In India, they are found in three clusters across India namely the Western and Eastern Ghats, central Indian landscape and North East India. Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh rank high in the conservation of the endangered dhole in India, according to a study (2020).
- Ecological role: Dholes play an important role as apex predators in forest ecosystems.
- Conservation Status of Dholes : o IUCN List of Threatened Species: Endangered o CITES : Appendix II
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule II
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule II
Marine heatwaves in Indian Ocean
- News: A phenomenon called Marine heat waves (MHW) have increased significantly in the past few decades in the Indian Ocean region. This is also impacting the Indian monsoon.
- Marine heatwaves are periods of increased temperatures over seas and oceans. They are caused by an increase in the heat content of oceans, especially in the upper layers. Marine heat waves are one of the major result of human-induced global warming, as around 90% of the warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed by the oceans.
- Impacts: These events cause habitat destruction due to coral bleaching, seagrass destruction and loss of kelp forests, affecting the fisheries sector adversely. An underwater survey showed 85% of corals in the Gulf of Mannar near the Tamil Nadu coast got bleached after the marine heatwave in 2020.
- Impact on Indian monsoon : The recent increase in marine heat waves in the Indian Ocean was due to rapid warming and strong El Niño events. In the Indian Ocean, the worst-affected area was its western part and northern Bay of Bengal. This reduces the monsoon rainfall over central India while increasing rainfall over the southern peninsular area.
Coastal Vulnerability Index
- Recently, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has carried out a coastal vulnerability assessment for the entire Indian coast at States level.
- The assessment has been conducted to bring out an Atlas comprising 156 maps on 1:1,00,000 scales to prepare a Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI).
- What is Coastal vulnerability : It is a spatial concept that identifies people and places that are susceptible to disturbances resulting from coastal hazards. Hazards in the coastal environment, such as coastal storms, sea level rise and erosion, pose significant threats to coastal physical, economic, and social systems.
- INCOIS : INCOIS is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). It is located in Hyderabad & was established in 1999. It is a unit of the Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO), New Delhi.
White Cheeked Macaque : India’s newest mammal
- Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have found a new mammal species named “White Cheeked Macaque” from Anjaw district in central Arunachal Pradesh.
- Scientific Name: Macaca leucogenys
- It was first discovered in 2015 by a group of Chinese scientists from southeastern Tibet.
- This macaque (monkey) is distinct from other macaques found in the region as it displays white cheeks, long and thick hairs on the neck area and a longer tail.
- It is also the last mammal to have been discovered in Southeast Asia.
- Note: Arunachal macaque, as well as the White Cheeked Macaque, exist in the same biodiversity hotspot in the eastern Himalayas.
- With this discovery, India’s mammal count increases from 437 to 438. This discovery will lay the foundation of the species being covered by the Wildlife Protection Act of India, which presently doesn’t cover it simply because we didn’t know it existed in India.
Kaziranga National park : a net carbon emitter
- Study : A study conducted by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and some universities has found it to be a net carbon emitter. The experimental study (using various sensors) was done under the MetFlux India project sponsored by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Why it is unusual for a forest to become net carbon emitter ?
- Forests usually absorb more carbon (through photosynthesis) than they release, which makes them carbon sinks, and they are globally promoted to counter the carbon dioxide emissions from different human activities.
- A similar analysis of the teak forests in Madhya Pradesh by showed that the forest acted as a carbon sink, showing the uniqueness of the Kaziranga National Park ecosystem.
- Note : Earlier, it was found that the Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb.
What makes Kaziranga a net carbon emitter?
- Kaziranga National park is a deciduous forest situated in Assam and home to the largest-population of the one- horned rhinoceros in the world. The biggest factor that makes Kaziranga national park a net emitter is its unique soil. The soil is home to a large population of bacteria that release carbon dioxide as they breathe, which adds to the carbon dioxide being emanated by other organisms, including trees.
- The photosynthetic activity of trees during the monsoon decreases due to increased cloud cover. Hence, the ability of the forest to absorb carbon dioxide also decreases. The situation remains the same during the post-monsoon and winter months, making the forest a net carbon emitter.
- At many places in North East India, trees release a large number of heavier isotopes in the water through a process known as transpiration. The scientists analysed the isotopes in the transpired water and observed a strong link between the water and carbon cycles of the forest and that the transpired water is one of the causal factors for rainfall locally. They also witnessed a decreasing trend in the rainfall coming from the transpired water in the pre-monsoon months, which are responsible for the highest carbon absorption. This will be a major issue as the planet warms further and rainfall becomes more erratic.
Koala : declared endangered by Australia Govt
- Recently, the Australian government declared the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) as ‘Endangered’ in the states of Queensland and New South Wales as well as the Australian Capital Territory.
- Koala is an Australian animal (Endemic species) , often called the koala bear.
- They are marsupials (mammals with a pouch for the development of offspring).
- Their fur (hair) is more like the coarse wool of a sheep. They have two toes that are fused together on their feet, which they use to comb their fur.
- They have two opposing thumbs on their hands, and both their feet and hands have rough pads and claws to grab onto branches.
- Habitat: Eucalyptus forests of southeastern and eastern Australia. Koalas rely on the eucalyptus tree for both habitat and food.
- Threats : habitat loss, diseases, bushfires, Hunting for their fur, threats of predation and road accidents.
- IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable.
Crytodactylus exercitus: New gecko from NE gets Army tag
- A team of herpetologists have recorded a new species of bent-toed gecko from a wooded part of the Umroi Military Station in Meghalaya. The finding of the study was published in the latest issue of the European Journal of Taxonomy.
- Its scientific name is Crytodactylus exercitus and its English name is the Indian Army’s bent-toed gecko.
- Note: Exercitus in Latin means army.
- Note : The military station where the bent-toed gecko was discovered was also a factor behind its name.
River Devika Rejuvenation Project : J& K
- The work on the river Devika Rejuvenation project in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir will be completed by June, Union minister Jitendra Singh said.
- Under the project, bathing “ghats” on the banks of the river will be developed, encroachments will be removed, natural water bodies will be restored and catchment areas will be developed.
- About River Devika : Also known as Devika Nagari, the river originates from the hilly Suddha Mahadev temple in Udhampur and flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan), where it merges with the Ravi river.
- Significance : The project is North India’s first river rejuvenation project. It will offer a unique destination both for pilgrim tourists as well as recreation tourists. The Devika River holds religious significance as it is revered by Hindus as the sister of the Ganga.
Greater Maldive Ridge (GMR)
- Researchers have traced the tectonic evolution of the Greater Maldive Ridge(GMR).
- Greater Maldive Ridge (GMR) is located in the western Indian Ocean, southwest of India.
- The ridge is aseismic which means that it is not associated with earthquake activities.
- The ridge largely remains uninvestigated but is of paramount importance to gain knowledge on the structure and geodynamics of aseismic ridges
Best state tableau of Republic Day parade 2022
- The tableau of Uttar Pradesh has been selected as the best tableau among the 12 States/UTs which participated in the Republic Day parade on January 26, 2022.
- The tableau of Uttar Pradesh was based on the theme ‘One District One Product and Kashi Vishwanath Dham’.
- The second place went to Karnataka for its tableau based on ‘cradle of traditional handicrafts’ while the third position went to Meghalaya for its tableau based on ‘Meghalaya’s 50 years of Statehood and its tribute to women-led cooperative societies & SHGs’.
- Note : Maharashtra wins in popular choice category.
Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2022
Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2022 was held in Mumbai.
- Film of the Year – Pushpa: The Rise
- Best Film – Shershaah
- Best Actor – Ranveer Singh
- Best Actress – Kriti Sanon
- Best Director – Ken Ghosh
- Outstanding Contribution To Film Industry – Asha Parekh
- Best International Feature Film – Another Round
- Best Web Series – Candy
- Best Actor in Web Series – Manoj Bajpayee
- Best Actress in Web Series – Raveena Tandon
About Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards:
- The film festival commemorates the notable contribution made by Dadasaheb Phalke.
- Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke, was an Indian producer-director-screenwriter, known as “the Father of Indian cinema”. His debut film, Raja Harishchandra, was the first Indian movie released in 1913, and is now known as India’s first full-length feature film.
“Writing With Fire” nominated for Oscars
- Indian documentary “Writing With Fire” has been nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category at the 94th edition of the Academy Awards (Oscars).
- This is the first time an Indian documentary has been nominated for an Academy Award.
- Directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, “Writing With Fire” chronicles the rise of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. This film is about fearless Dalit women journalists who are redefining what being powerful means, quintessentially the story of the modern Indian woman.
- The awards ceremony is scheduled to be held on March 27, 2022.
- Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari will be facilitated for the first time with the 18th late Madhavrao Limaye award in the category of Karyakram Khaasdar (Efficient Member of Parliament) for the year 2020-21.
5th National Award for “Innovations and Good Practices in Educational Administration” (IGPEA)
- Minister for State for Education Dr Subhas Sarkar presented 5th National Award for Innovations and Good Practices in Educational Administration to more than 100 selected education officers (District and Block level ) of the country.
- About Award : It was launched by NIEPA in 2014 with an aim to encourage innovations and good practices in educational administration at grassroot level for improving the functioning of the public system of education. It aims to recognise innovative ideas and practices adopted by the district and block level education officers for effective management of the educational administrative system at the district and block levels.
BOOKS and Auhors
|“A History of Sriniketan: Rabindranath Tagore’s Pioneering Work in Rural Construction”||Uma Das Gupta (historian and Tagore biographer)|
|“Atal Bihari Vajpayee”||Sagarika Ghose|
|‘Golden Boy Neeraj Chopra’ penned by sports author||Navdeep Singh Gill|
|‘Fearless Governance’.||Dr. Kiran Bedi (former Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry and IPS)|
|“A Little Book of India: Celebrating 75 years of Independence”||Ruskin Bond|
|‘Operation Khatma’||RC Ganjoo and Ashwini Bhatnagar|
|‘India, That is Bharat: Coloniality, Civilisation, Constitution’||J Sai Deepak|
|“India-Africa Relations: Changing Horizons”||Rajiv Bhatia|
|‘How to Prevent the Next Pandemic’||Bill Gates|
OBITUARY / DEATHS
|Nadoja Channaveera Kanavi||
|Praveen Kumar Sobti||
|Rupinder Singh Suri||
- India’s 16-year-old Grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa created history after he defeated world Number one chess champion, Magnus Carlsen, in the eighth round of the Airthings Masters.
- India have become the number one team in the Men’s ICC T20 International team rankings for the first time in six years after its 3-0 series win over West Indies in Kolkata.
- Mumbai has been officially elected as the host for the 2023 International Olympic Committee (IOC) session. India will host the session for the first time since 1983. (Headquarters of IOC : Lausanne, Switzerland ; President: Thomas Bach; Founded: 23 June 1894).
- Leh is going to host the first-ever highest level of World Cup cycling event in India on September 4, 2022.
- China PR (People’s Republic) defeated South Korea (Korea Republic) to win the AFC Women`s Asian Cup (for 9th time) India 2022 final title at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, India.
- In the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2022, India lifted a record fifth title after beating England at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. (Earlier, India had won the U19 World Cup in 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2018.)
- Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra has been nominated for 2022 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award.
- Chennai Super Kings (IPL Cricket team) have become the first-ever sports Unicorn in the country to have a market share of Rs 7,600 crore. In the gray market, its share is trading in the price band of Rs 210-225. The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK, which won its fourth IPL title in Dubai last year, now has a market cap more than its parent entity, India Cements.
- Veteran Indian Hockey goalkeeper P R Sreejesh has won the prestigious World Games Athlete of the Year 2021 for his performances, becoming only the second Indian to receive the accolade. (In 2020, Indian Women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal became the first Indian to win the honour for her 2019 show.)
- The 2022 Asian Games (19th edition) will take place from September 10 to September 25, 2022, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China and there will be five co-host cities.
- New Zealand cricketer, Daryl Mitchell has been named the winner of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Spirit of Cricket Award 2021.
- English club, Chelsea has defeated Brazilian club Palmeiras, 2-1, to win the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup final.
- Haryana Men’s & Kerala Women’s Team wins Senior National Volleyball Championship.
- Indian weightlifter and 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist, Mirabai Chanu has won the gold medal in the 55kg weight category at the Singapore Weightlifting International 2022 on February 25, 2022.
2022 Winter Olympics (XXIV Olympic Winter Games)
- Commonly known as Beijing 2022, is an international winter multi-sport event held between 4 and 20 February 2022 in Beijing, China, and surrounding areas.
- Note : Winter Olympics is the premier competition for sports that are played on ice or snow. It is held every four years and features participants from across the world. Winter sports were initially played at the Summer Olympics, but in 1924, it was separated. The first Winter Olympics were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
- India has been participating in the Winter Olympics since 1964 but never wins a medal since then.
- Norway remained in top rank with total 37 medals including 16 Gold medals.
- However, India had announced the diplomatic level boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremony. This means that no Indian officials will attend the opening and closing ceremony. However, the country has sent one of its athletes, Arif Khan (skier), to attend the event.
- The reason behind the boycott: China has picked a Chinese soldier (Qi Fabao) as Olympic torchbearer, who was involved in the Galwan incident on June 15, 2020, which had resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers, including a Colonel.
2022 Odisha Open (badminton tournament)
- Women’s singles : The 14-year old Unnati is the youngest Indian to win the tournament.
- Men’s singles : India’s 21-year-old Kiran George beat Priyanshu Rajawat to emerge as the winner.
2nd February : World Wetlands Day
- Theme for 2022: Wetlands Action for People and Nature.
- This day marks the date of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2nd February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
- With the addition of 2 wetlands recently, India has now a network of 49 Ramsar sites covering an area of 10,93,636 hectares, the highest in South Asia.
- Two wetlands added recently : o Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in UP o Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary (Gujarat)
- Note : The countries with the most Ramsar Sites are the United Kingdom (175) and Mexico (142), as per the Ramsar List. Bolivia has the largest area with 148,000 sq km under the Convention protection.
- The Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram, Haryana was declared India’s first “Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures” (OECM) site on World Wetland day.
4th February : World Cancer Day
- Theme 2022 : Close the Care Gap
10th February World Pulses Day
- It is observed to raise awareness about the importance of pulses.
- Theme 2022 : “Pulses to empower youth in achieving sustainable agrifood systems”.
11th February : International Day of Women and Girls in Science
- Theme: “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”.
13th February : World Radio Day
- Theme 2022 : “Radio and Trust”.
13th February : National Women’s Day
- It is celebrated on the birth anniversary (February 13) of the Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu.
- Note : International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March.
14th February : International Epilepsy Day
- Every year the second Monday of February is observed as International Epilepsy Day (IED), and this year it was celebrated on 14th February (2022).
- The day spreads awareness and educates people about the true facts of epilepsy and the urgent need for improved treatment, better care, and greater investment in research.
- Note : Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.
20th February : World Day of Social Justice
- Theme 2022: ‘Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment’
21st February : International Mother Language Day celebrated by UNESCO every year
- The theme of 2022 is: “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”.
- The world has over 7,000 languages whereas India alone has about 22 officially recognized languages, 1635 mother tongues, and 234 identifiable mother tongues.
February 24 : Central Excise Day
27th February : World NGO day
- Note : India has over three million Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) that work across a range of arenas and play important roles of facilitator, catalyst or partner in bringing social transformation.
28th February : National Science Day
- It is celebrated annually on 28th February to commemorate the discovery of the Raman Effect by Nobel laureate and Physicist CV Raman on this day in 1928.
- Note : Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman was a physicist from Tamil Nadu. His work in the field of light scattering earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930. This phenomenon was named the Raman effect. In 1954, he was honoured with India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.
Himachal Pradesh gets 1st Biodiversity Park at Mandi
- Himachal Pradesh gets the first biodiversity park to make its contribution towards the conservation of endangered Himalayan herbs. This park is set to come up at Mandi’s Bhulah in Janjehli valley.
- This park was one of the dream projects of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur.
- With the cost of Rs 1 crore, the biodiversity park is set up under the National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS) by HP’s forest department.
- The aim of the park is to link tourism activities along with extending new opportunities for researchers to conduct indepth exploration of various medicinal herbs found in the Himalayas that are on the verge of extinction.
Special things :
- A herbal nursery to conserve herbs that are about to extinct in the mountains has also been set up in the park, which has trillidium govanianum (Nagchhatri), dhoop, picrorhiza kurroa, sarpagandha, swertia chirayita, barbari plant and many similar herbs and shrubs on display.
- Any research scholar from the country or abroad can avail information about the herbs to conduct research work. In this herbal nursery, about 1,200 plants of different species are available. This fenced park has been built on five hectares. Various basic facilities have also been mobilised here for researchers.
- Amphitheatres have been built in the park for the convenience of researchers and tourists. Two log huts, a water harvesting structure, an internal tank, a 5KW power generation project, bird nests, and a sales centre have been set up as well.
- Two tree huts have also been prepared for tourists, from where they can enjoy the picturesque view of the park. Nature trails of about 2km and a 25ft high and 160-metre-long tree walk have also been prepared along with seven footbridges.
- In its endeavour to make Himachal the most-preferred destination for tourists, many initiatives have been taken by the state government. This biodiversity park is a part of the HP government’s scheme to explore the tourism potential of lesser-known areas of the state.
- Atal Tunnel has officially been certified by World Book of Records as the ‘World’s Longest Highway Tunnel above 10,000 Feet’. ( World Book of Records UK, is an organisation that catalogues and verifies extraordinary records across the world with authentic certification).
- Atal Tunnel (earlier called Rohtang Tunnel) was built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
- The 02-km tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the world above the height of 3,000 metres.
- It cuts through a mountain west of the Rohtang pass and shortens the distance between Solang Valley and Sissu by around 46 km and takes around 15 minutes to cover. Earlier, it would take nearly 4 hours to travel between the two points.
- Rohtang Pass (elevation 3,978 m) is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is present on the Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas.
Chamba in HP becomes 100th ‘Har Ghar Jal’ District
- Jal Jeevan Mission achieved the milestone of providing tap water to every home of 100 districts in the country.
- Chamba, an Aspirational District of Himachal Pradesh has become the 100th ‘Har Ghar Jal’ District. (Chamba is the fifth aspirational district to become ‘Har Ghar Jal’).About Jal Jeevan Mission:
- It was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15th August 2019, with the aim to provide an assured tap water supply to every rural home by 2024. At the announcement of the Mission on 15th August 2019, out of 19.27 Crore households only 3.23 Crore (17%) households in India had tap water connections.
- Note : 9 Crore homes were covered under tap water supply till 16th February, 2022
- In Madhya Pradesh, Central Jail of Indore has started its own radio channel ‘Jail Vaani-FM 18.77’. Through this radio channel, the jail inmates will get to know about the happening in the world. The radio channel will also provide the jail inmates with information on health and social issues.
- The country’s first commercial-scale biomass-based hydrogen plant is coming up in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. The plant will produce a tonne of hydrogen per day, from 30 tonnes of biomass feedstock. It will also produce biochar and methane.
- The Centre has approved the Madhya Pradesh government’s proposal to rename Hoshangabad district as Narmadapuram, Shivpuri as “Kundeshwar Dham” and a Babai town as Makhan Nagar.
- The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has approved the setting up of the country’s first Geo Park at Lamheta village on the banks of the Narmada River in Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh. The estimated cost of this project is ₹ 35 crore.
- Recently, the Prime Minister has inaugurated “Gobar-Dhan (Bio-CNG) Plant” in Indore with the aim of removing lakhs of tonnes of garbage that is occupying thousand acres of land and causing air and water pollution leading to many diseases. It has been established under the second phase of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM-U 2.0).
- Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar (Padam Shri) has been appointed as the brand ambassador of Uttarakhand.
- Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly laid the foundation stone of world’s thirdlargest cricket stadium which is going to be built in Jaipur. Currently, Narendra Modi Stadium (former Motera Stadium) in Ahmedabad is the world’s largest stadium. The second-largest stadium is Australia’s Melbourne Cricket Ground.
- The West Bengal government launched an open-air classroom programme ‘Paray Shikshalaya’ (Neighbourhood Schools) for students from class 1 to 7. The aim of this initiative is to encourage students who dropped out of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this, the government has selected clubs and parks to hold classes. Under this, the students would be studying in an open area.
- Chhattisgarh has become the 35th State/UT to implement “One Nation One Ration Card” (ONORC) plan.
- Ahead of Punjab Assembly elections 2022, the office of Punjab Chief Electoral Officer unveiled its poll mascot ‘Shera’ depicting a lion.
- Recently, the Haryana government released the draft of the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Bill, 2022 which aims at prohibiting religious conversions which are affected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage by making it an offense. (Other States like Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have also passed laws restricting religious conversion).
- 36th Statehood Day of Mizoram : The formalization of Mizoram State took place on 20th February, 1987 after the 53rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution, 1986.
- 36th Statehood Day of Arunachal Pradesh : Through the 55th amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1986, Arunachal Pradesh became the 24th state of the Indian Union on 20th February, 1987.
- The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar jointly inaugurated the 14.5-kilometre long ‘Rail-cum-Road-Bridge’ over River Ganga in Bihar. (cost of the project is Rs 696 crore).
- MSME-Technology Centre with an outlay of Rs. 200 Crore, will be set up in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra.
- Odisha’s first tribal chief minister as well as last Congress chief minister of the state, Hemananda Biswal passed away.
MISCELLANEOUS (in News)
- Recently, the Union Ministry of Culture has nominated Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas temples (Karnatka) for consideration as a World Heritage site for the year 2022-2023.
- Recently, the Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs has tabled a report on Police- training, modernisation and reforms. The report asked the Centre to advise states and Union Territories to create a road map for ensuring 33% representation of women in police.
- India’s largest Science-based Ayurveda major Dabur India Ltd has now become a 100% ‘Plastic Waste Neutral company’ in India, having collected, processed and recycled around 27,000 MT of post-consumer plastic waste from all over India in the 2021-22 financial year.
- Recently, India signed an agreement with the United Nations World Food Programme/WFP (headquarters in Rome) for the distribution of 50,000 MT of wheat that it has committed to sending to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian assistance. (The WFP has been awarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace 2020 for its efforts to combat hunger, bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and preventing the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
- Recently, the US says it will open an embassy in the Solomon Islands (a nation in Melanesia, east of Papua New Guinea). US plans to increase its influence in the South Pacific nation before China becomes “strongly embedded.”
- NITI Aayog, in association with PhonePe (Digital Payment Service Provider), will be hosting the first-ever open-to-all fintech Open Hackathon that aims to showcase path-breaking solutions for the fintech ecosystem.
- Recently, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has banned the import of foreign drones. The move comes after the Union Budget 2022 proposed the Drone Shakti scheme to facilitate application and use of ‘drones as service’ in the country. The import of drone components, however, has not been banned and will not require any approvals. The import of drones for defense and security purposes will also be allowed subject to approval from the DGFT. The move aims to promote made-in-India drones.
- Recently, a US patient with leukemia has become the first woman and the third person to date to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus that causes Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome /AIDS. (HIV attacks CD4, a type of White Blood Cell (T cells) in the body’s immune system).
- Recently, the Ministry of Ayush reiterated that Giloy/Gudduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) is safe and as per available data, and does not produce any toxic effect. (Earlier, certain sections of the media have falsely linked Giloy/Guduchi to liver damage).
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti is celebrated each year on 19th February to remember and praise his courage, warfare tactics and administrative skills.
- Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its Annual Frontiers Report named Noise, Blazes and Mismatches.
- In the Budget 2022-23, the government announced to set up ‘Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics’ (AVGC) task force to “build domestic capacity to serve Indian markets and global demand.”
- Razzaza Lake in Iraq was once a tourist attraction known for its beautiful scenery and an abundance of fish that locals depended on. Now, dead fish litter its shores and the once-fertile lands around it have turned into a barren desert.
- The Ministry of Education launched a campaign ‘Bhasha Certificate Selfie under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB). It was launched to encourage cultural diversity and promote multilingualism and to foster the spirit EBSB. It aims to promote the Bhasha Sangam mobile app, developed by the Ministry of Education and MyGov India and launched on Rashtriya Ekta Diwas 2021 (31st October).
- The Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and Development of the North- Eastern Region, G. Kishan Reddy inaugurated the first of its kind, a 2- Day Global Summit in Hyderabad on ‘Reimagining Museums in India’.
- Recently, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology Dr Jitendra Singh said in the Lok Sabha that Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled for launch in August 2022.
- Khelo India Scheme allocation increases by 48% in Budget 2022-23.
- World-renowned wrestler ‘The Great Khali’, whose real name is Dalip Singh Rana, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has addressed 30th National Commission for Women Foundation Day programme on January 31, 2022, via video conference. The event was organised to celebrate the achievements of women in different fields.
The theme of the programme was ‘She The Change Maker’.
- South Korean electronics manufacturing giant, Samsung Electronics surpassed U.S chipmaker Intel to become the world’s leading chipmaker by revenue in 2021.
- Tata Sky has dropped the ‘sky’ brand name after 15 years and has rechristened itself as Tata Play.
- The Global Center of Excellence in Affordable and Clean energy was recently launched at IIT Dharwad (Karnataka).
- A Telugu short film ‘Street Student’ by Akula Sandeep depicting the story of a street urchin with a strong message on right to education has bagged the first prize in a competition organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
- The United Kingdom has marked the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s rule, the queen looked to the future of the monarchy. She surpassed Louis XIV of France as the longest-reigning monarch of a sovereign state.
- Surat to get India’s 1st bullet train station by Dec 2024.
- NABARD launched ‘JIVA Programme’ to promote natural farming.
- N Chandrasekaran reappointed as Chairman of Tata Sons (for second 5 year term)
- Israel becomes the first-ever country to allow drone flights in civilian airspace.
- French president, Emmanuel Macron has announced that France and its European partners will start the military withdrawal from Mali after more than nine years fighting a jihadist insurgency.
- Microsoft founder and philanthropist, Bill Gates has been conferred with Hilal-e-Pakistan, the second-highest civilian honour in the country, for his efforts to help eradicate polio in Pakistan.
- Israel successfully tests fire ‘C-Dome’ new naval air defence system Iron Dome.
- India and France have inked a roadmap to enhance their bilateral exchanges on the blue economy and ocean governance.
- Canada became the first country in the world that has authorized the use of a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine.