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Monthly DNA

15 Mar, 2021

43 Min Read

Quad Virtual Summit-2021

GS-II : International Relations Indo Pacific Region

Quad Virtual Summit-2021


  • The virtual summit that brought together leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad has countered the popular perception that the Quad is merely a “talk-shop”.

Details of the summit

The outcomes include a vaccine initiative and joint working groups to cooperate on critical technology as well as climate change.

  • Vaccine Initiative: The vaccine initiative comes with an ambitious deadline: a billion vaccines by the end of 2022, made in India with U.S. technology, Japanese funding and Australian distribution networks to reach as many Indo-Pacific countries as possible.
  • Emission reduction: The four Quad countries will ensure emissions reduction based on the Paris accord as well as cooperate on technology supply chains, 5G networks, and biotechnology.
  • Open Indo-Pacific region: Mr. Biden, who hosted the summit, managed some powerful atmospherics, by coordinating a joint statement — and a first — called “The Spirit of the Quad”, and a joint article by the four leaders that committed to an open Indo-Pacific “free from coercion”.
  • Views of USA: For Mr. Biden, the early push for the Quad engagement is part of his promise that “America is back” in terms of global leadership, reaffirming regional alliances, and taking on the growing challenge from China.
  • Views of Australia and Japan: For similar reasons, and due to maritime tensions with China, trade and telecommunication issues, Australia and Japan are keen on taking the Quad partnership to deeper levels of cooperation.
  • Views of India: For India, the new terms of the Quad will mean more strategic support after a tense year at the LAC, as also a boost for its pharmaceutical prowess, opportunities for technology partnerships, and more avenues for regional cooperation on development projects and financing infrastructure, especially in South Asia, where China has taken the lead.

China and the Quad nations

  • It would be a mistake, however, to portray the Quad summit as a “throwing down of the gauntlet” to China.
  • The new U.S. government is still exploring its own relationship with China; its first engagement with Beijing’s top diplomats is in Alaska, on Thursday.
  • For Japan and Australia, China remains the biggest trading partner, a relationship that will only grow once the 15-nation RCEP kicks in.
  • India, given its own ties with China, sensitivities over ongoing LAC disengagement talks, and its other multilateral commitments at the BRICS and SCO groupings, also displayed caution in the Quad engagement, keeping the conversation focused on what Mr. Modi called making the Quad a “force for global good” rather than pushing plans for a militaristic coalition.
  • In that sense, the Quad’s new “summit avatar” has given India yet another string to its bow, broadening India’s interests in its geopolitical horizons even further.

Source: TH

Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY)

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government Schemes & Programmes

Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY)

In the Budget speech of FY 21-22, ‘Prime Minister AtmanirbharSwasth Bharat Yojana’ (PMASBY) scheme has been announced on 1st February, 2021, with an outlay of about Rs.64,180 Cr over six years (till FY 25-26). This will be in addition to the National Health Mission.

The main interventions under the scheme to be achieved by FY 25-26 are:

  • Support for 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in in 10 High Focus States
  • Establishing 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres in all the States.
  • Setting up of Integrated Public Health Labs in all districts and 3382 Block Public Health Units in11 High Focus states;
  • Establishing Critical Care Hospital Blocks in 602 districts and 12 Central Institutions;
  • Strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units;
  • Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs;
  • vii. Operationalisation of 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units at Points of Entry, that is at 32 Airports, 11 Seaports and 7 landcrossings;
  • Setting up of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centres and 2 mobile hospitals; and
  • Setting up of a national institution for One Health, a Regional Research Platform for WHO South East Asia Region, 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and 4 regional National Institutes for Virology.
  • The measures under the scheme focus on developing capacities of health systems and institutions across the continuum of care at all levels viz. primary, secondary and tertiary and on preparing health systems in responding effectively to the current and future pandemics/disasters.
  • The PMASBY targets to build an IT enabled disease surveillance system by developing a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels, in Metropolitan areas & strengthening health units at the Points of Entry, for effectively detecting, investigating, preventing and combating Public Health Emergencies and Disease Outbreaks.
  • Increased investments are also targeted to support research on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, including biomedical research to generate evidence to inform short-term and medium-term response to COVID-19 like pandemics and to develop core capacity to deliver the One Health Approach to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks in animals and humans.
  • National Health Policy (NHP), 2017 envisages raising public health expenditure from the existing 1.15% to 2.5% of GDP by 2025 in a time bound manner.

Source: PIB

ISRO-JAXA Virtual Meeting

GS-III : S&T Space mission

ISRO-JAXA Virtual Meeting

ISRO and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) held a virtual meeting.

Key Takeaways :

  • They have signed an Implementing Arrangement for collaborative activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using satellite data.
  • The agencies also reviewed ongoing cooperation to launch a joint lunar polar exploration (LUPEX) mission.

About LUPEX Mission:

  • LUPEX is a robotic lunar mission by ISRO and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
  • The mission aims to send a lunar rover and lander to explore the South Pole region of the Moon in 2024.
  • It will also test lunar night survival capabilities for sustainable lunar exploration in the South Pole region of the moon.
  • JAXA is likely to provide the H3 launch vehicle and the rover. While ISRO would be responsible for the lander for this mission.

India’s Space Cooperation with other countries:

  • India and Italy have decided to explore opportunities in earth observation, space science, and robotic and human exploration.
  • India and Australia may host vital tracking infrastructure to support the Gaganyaan manned space flight mission.

Source: TH

Lingaraja Temple

GS-I : Art and Culture Temples

Lingaraja Temple

  • Lingaraja Temple is a Hindu temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
  • The temple is believed to be built by the kings of the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers.
  • The temple is a classic example of the Kalinga style of architecture.
  • The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in height compared to its predecessor.
  • The harmony between the two sects of Hinduism, Shaivism, and Vaishnavism, is seen where the deity is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva.

Source: TH

Small Finance Banks

GS-III : Economic Issues Banking

Small Finance Banks

About Finance Banks:

  • They are niche banks that focus on and serve the needs of a certain demographic segment of the population.
  • The objectives of setting up of small finance banks will be to further financial inclusion by
    • the provision of savings vehicles
    • supply of credit to small business units; small and marginal farmers; micro and small industries; and other unorganised sector entities,
    • through high technology-low cost operations.
  • SFBs was recommended by the Nachiket Mor committee on financial inclusion.

Scope of activities of SFBs

  • Small finance banks primarily undertake basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to unserved and underserved sections including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities.

Criteria for setting up SFBs

  • Individuals/professions with 10 years of experience in finance, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), micro finance companies, local area banks are eligible to set up SFBs.
  • The minimum paid-up equity capital for small finance banks shall be Rs. 100 crore.
  • The promoter’s minimum initial contribution to the paid-up equity capital shall at least be 40% and gradually brought down to 26% within 12 years from the date of commencement of business of the bank.
  • The small finance banks will be required to extend 75% of its Adjusted Net Bank Credit to the sectors eligible for classification as priority sector lending (PSL) by the Reserve Bank.
  • SFBs have to maintain Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) as per RBI norms.
  • At least 50% of its loan portfolio should constitute loans and advances of up to Rs. 25 lakh.

What can Small Finance Banks do?

  • Sell forex to customers.
  • Sell mutual funds, insurance and pensions.
  • Can convert into a full-fledged bank.

What Small Finance Banks can’t do?

  • Extend large loans.
  • Cannot float subsidiaries
  • Deal in sophisticated products.

Source: TH

Agglomeration Effect

GS-III : Economic Issues Terminology

Agglomeration Effect

Agglomeration Economies:

  • A localized economy in which a large number of companies, services, and industries exist in close proximity to one another and benefit from the cost reductions and gains in efficiency that result from this proximity.
  • If an area specialises in the production of a certain type of good, all firms can benefit from various factors such as:
    • Good supply networks
    • Supply of trained workers
    • Infrastructure built specifically for the industry
    • Good transport links

Source: TH

Committee for Studying Saraswati River

GS-I : Art and Culture Historical sites

Committee for Studying Saraswati River

The Central Government reconstituted an advisory committee for studying the mythical Saraswati river for the next 2 years.

Advisory Committee on Saraswati River:

  • The Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) set up the Advisory Committee for the Study of the River Saraswati in 2017 for 2 years.
  • Aim was to study the mythical Saraswati river and draw up a plan to identify its basin and define its path.
  • The committee, now reconstituted, is chaired by the Culture Minister.

About Saraswati River:

  • Sarasvati River is a mystical river mentioned in the Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.

About Archaeological Survey of India:

  • ASI is the premier organization for archaeological research, scientific analysis, excavation of archaeological sites, conservation, and preservation of protected monuments.
  • It is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham.

Source: TH

Flowering of Bamboos in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Wildlife & Fauna

The flowering of Bamboos in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

The gregarious flowering of bamboo inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and the nearby Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Gudalur forest division in Tamil Nadu.

The life cycle of bamboo:

  • Bamboo is a monocarpic (flowering occurs only once in the life cycle) plant belonging to the Poaceae family (grass family), and its flowering cycle varies from 40 to 60 years.
  • The Bamboo flowers and die.
  • Regeneration occurs from seeds after gregarious flowering. Seeds have no dormancy, and they can undergo germination under favourable conditions soon after seed fall.
  • The bamboo groves in the Wayanad forest are the mainstay of herbivores like elephants, and wild gaur in the Nilgiri biosphere during summer.

National Bamboo Mission:

  • The restructured NBM was launched in 2018-19 for the holistic development of the complete value chain of the bamboo sector and is being implemented in a hub and spoke model.


  • Connecting farmers to markets so as to enable farmer producers to get a ready market for the bamboo grown.
  • To increase the supply of appropriate raw materials to the domestic industry.
  • To upgrade the skills of traditional bamboo craftsmen as per the requirement of contemporary markets with a tie-up with enterprises and premier institutes.
  • The Sector Skill Councils established under the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) will impart skills and recognition of prior learning to traditional artisans, encouraging the youth to carry forward their family traditions.

NSDA is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship that anchors the National Skill Qualifications Framework and allied quality assurance mechanisms for synergizing skill initiatives in the country.

Source: TH

Deep Ocean Mission

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government Schemes & Programmes

Deep Ocean Mission

  • The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed as the multi-ministerial multi-disciplinary programme with an emphasis on the development of deep-sea technology, exploration of deep-sea mineral resources and biodiversity, acquisition of a research vessel for exploration, deep sea observations, and capacity building. Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal agency for implementing the programme.
  • The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed to be a Central Sector Scheme and no separate allocation for States is envisaged.
  • It is proposed to collaborate with non-governmental organizations for research collaboration for various components of the Deep Ocean Mission.
  • Under Deep Ocean Mission, it is proposed to develop, test and demonstrate the mining technology for harvesting polymetallic nodules from the Test Mine Site (TMS) in the allocated area of 75000 sq. km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB).
  • A manned submersible for 6000 m depth is also proposed to be developed as an ocean exploratory tool.

The major objectives proposed under Deep Ocean Mission are as follows:

  1. Development of technologies for deep-sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics;
  2. Development of ocean climate change advisory services;
  3. Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deepsea biodiversity;
  4. Deep ocean survey and exploration;
  5. Proof of concept studies on energy and freshwater from the ocean; and
  6. Establishing an advanced marine station for ocean biology.

Source: TH

National Institutes of Food Technology Bill, 2019 Passed by Rajya Sabha

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture

National Institutes of Food Technology Bill, 2019 Passed by Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha passed the National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019.


  • The bill declares two institutes of food technology, entrepreneurship, and management as institutions of national importance. These are:
    • National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Haryana
    • Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Tamil Nadu.

Institutions of National Importance:.

  • The status is conferred on a premier public higher education institution in India by an act of the Parliament of India.


  • These institutes are provided functional autonomy to design and develop courses
  • Award Degrees such as Bachelor of Technology, Master of Technology, and Ph.D.
  • Undertake research activities
  • The institutes would also implement the reservation policy of the Government.

Source: PIB

Martian Blueberries

GS-III : S&T Space

Martian Blueberries

According to Researchers from Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad the Blueberries in India and “Martian Blueberries” share similar characteristics.

What are Martian Blueberries?

  • Martian blueberries are small spherical haematites.
  • The Mars rover “Opportunity” discovered them in 2004 on the planet Mars.

Composition of Martian blueberries:

  • Martian Blueberries are made of iron oxide compounds called haematites.
  • These haematites are known to form in oxidising environments through precipitation from aqueous fluids (water-like fluid).
  • Hence, the presence of haematites suggests that water was present on Mars.
  • It also indicates that the planet had an atmosphere with oxygen as haematites need oxygen to stabilise.

Similar Haematite Concentrations on Earth

  • Researchers from India have been studying the Jhuran formation in Kutch, Gujarat.
  • They have similar morphology – spherical and similar mineralogy – a mixture of haematite and goethite.
  • Further, it has been also argued that the transformation of Mars from a wet and humid to dry and arid environment is mimicked by the history of Kutch in Gujarat.

Source: TH

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