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29 May, 2020

80 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Vinayak Damodar Savarkar Modern History
How Heat wave in North India is unusual Human Geography
GS-II Delimitation Commission Indian Polity
National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)
GS-III Locust attack: All about Locusts Disaster and Disaster management
A joint fight by India and Pakistan, over the years: To control the Locusts swarms Disaster and Disaster management
Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET)
UV-C light source for Germicidal Irradiation
PT Pointer Hansa Jivraj Mehta Social issues
Credit scores Economic Issues
NASA’s Kilopower Project
National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN)
5G technology
Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Indian Polity
Automated ocean pollution observation system
Accessible India Campaign (AIC) Governance
UN Environment Management Group (EMG)
Export control regime
Cyber Surakshit Bharat Internal security
GS-I : Modern History
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (28 May 1883 – 26 February 1966)

Context

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Veer Savarkar on his jayanti on May 28th.

"On his Jayanti, I bow to the courageous Veer Savarkar. We remember him for his bravery, motivating several others to join the freedom struggle and emphasis on social reform", the Prime Minister said.

About Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Cause of Death: Fasting (Sallekhana Prayopavesa)

  • He was commonly known as Veer Savarkar (“brave” in his native Marathi language)
  • An Indian independence activist, politician, lawyer, writer, and the formulator of the Hindutva philosophy
  • Championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.
  • Savarkar was a radical and his Hindutva too was a radical break in the Hindu thought: anti-caste, reformist, modernist and futuristic. It was a modern Hindu response to the modern world
  • Organised a youth group named ‘Mitra Mela’
  • In London, Veer Savarkar inspired his fellow Indian students and formed an organisation ‘Free India Society’ to fight against Britishers for freedom.
  • Was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
  • Provided legal defence to Madan Lal Dhingra, who was accused in a murder case of a British Indian army officer named Sir William Hutt Curzon Wyllie.
  • Veer Savarkar also founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution. In 1937, he also became the president of ‘Hindu Mahasabha’.
  • A fierce critic of the Indian National Congress (INC) and Mahatma Gandhi; opposed the ‘Quit India Movement’ and later objected to INC’s acceptance of Indian partition. He proposed the co-existence of two nations in one country.

Hindutva

  • The main challenge thrown by the British rule and colonial modernity under the pale of capitalism was for Hindus to justify their existence as a society. Who were they? Could Hindus survive in a modern world dominated by the expansionist organised religions, nations and nation-state?
  • Savarkar responded to these challenges. The coming together of various pagan traditions as Hinduism to meet the challenge of the Abrahamic monotheism is a centuries-old process.
  • Savarkar consolidated it under a new ideological construct. He wielded it into a coherent political construct, Hindutva that aimed to answer the challenges of the modern world, especially the charge of the colonialists that India is not a nation and hence unworthy of self-rule.
  • For India to be able to resist imperialism, a nation had to be born. For Savarkar, that nation was a Hindu Rashtra.
  • Only a Hindu nation transcending caste, regional and linguistic barriers was capable of resisting imperialism.

50 years of imprisonment – Kaala Paani

  • Savarkar wrote a book titled “The History of the War of Indian Independence”- wrote about the guerilla warfare tricks used in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
  • While the book was banned by Britishers, Madama Bhikaji Cama published the book in Netherlands, Germany and France, which eventually reached many Indian revolutionaries.
  • Savarkar was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the MorleY-Minto reform. He also tried to escape by diving in the water but was arrested. He was sentenced to two life sentences i.e. 50 years in the cellular jail of Andamans, also known as Kala Pani, in 1911.
  • Death – 1964: Savarkar declared his wish to attain Samadhi and started hunger-strike on February 1, 1966 and passed away on February 26, 1966. He believed that his purpose of life is solved as India has gained Independence.
  • In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.
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GS-I : Human Geography
How Heat wave in North India is unusual

How Heat wave in North India is unusual

Part of: GS-I- Geography (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Heatwave in India: The last several days have brought heatwaves in parts of the country, but the preceding weeks had seen no such conditions. A look at how this breaks trends, Cyclone Amphan's role, and what is expected to follow.

For the past five days, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra have been experiencing severe to very severe heatwave conditions. In its very first spell this summer, this heatwave pushed day temperatures significantly above normal, with Churu in Rajasthan reporting 50 degrees. Here is why this summer is slightly unusual.

What is a heatwave and when is it declared?

Heatwaves occur over India between March and June. Meteorologists declare a heatwave event when the maximum (day) temperature for a location in the plains crosses 40 degrees Celsius. Over the hills, the threshold temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. When the day temperature jumps by 4 to 5 degrees above the normal maximum temperature of a location, it is declared as a heatwave (PT).

For example, if the normal maximum temperature for a location in the plains on a given day should be 40 degrees but records 45 degrees, then that location is experiencing a heatwave. Alternatively, any location where maximum temperature crosses 45 degrees or shows a departure of over 6 degrees from normal, it is a severe heatwave condition.

 

How long can a heatwave spell last?

A heatwave spell generally lasts for a minimum of four days. On some occasions, it can extend up to seven or ten days. The longest recorded heatwave spell, in recent years, was between 18 – 31 May 2015. This spell had severely affected parts of West Bengal along with Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. A similar spell in 2014 was reported during June 2 – June 11.

The current heatwave spell commenced on May 22 and is likely to continue till May 29. Heatwave conditions occurring in May have been observed to last longer, as the season reaches its peak this month. Whereas those reported in June often die down sooner, often due to the onset of Southwest monsoon over the location or in its neighbourhood.

Does all of India experience heatwave conditions?

No. Heatwaves are common over the Core Heatwave Zone (CHZ) — Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, West Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Vidarbha in Maharashtra, parts of Gangetic West Bengal, Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, as categorised by India Meteorological Department.

Several recent studies indicate that CHZ experience more than six heatwave days per year during these four months. Many places in the northwest and cities along southeastern coast report eight heatwave days per season. However, the regions in the extreme north, northeast and southwestern India is lesser prone to heatwaves.

So why did the country experience an unusual summer sans heatwaves, till the third week of May?

  • Summer season reaches its peak by May 15 in India, when the day temperatures across north, west, and central India cross 40 degrees and hover close to 45 degrees then on.
  • This year, north India did not experience such temperatures till May 21. It was mainly because of the continuous inflow of Western Disturbances that influenced the weather in the north till as late as April.
  • Since last winter, there was frequent passing of Western Disturbances over the north, appearing after every five to seven days.
  • Originating in the Mediterranean Sea, Western Disturbances are eastward-moving winds that blow in lower atmospheric levels. They affect the local weather of a region during its onward journey.
  • Between January and March this year, there were about 20 Western Disturbances, a record of sorts.
  • When Western Disturbances interact with weather systems heading from the two southern seas, that is, warm winds blowing in from the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea, they cause snowfall or rainfall over the north.
  • A significant influence of Western Disturbances is experienced during December to February. However, this year, its influence persisted till early May.
  • The recent Western Disturbances got support from easterly winds blowing over from the Bay of Bengal. It resulted in rainfall and thunderstorm activities over parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, north Madhya Pradesh and Delhi until mid-May, keeping atmospheric conditions cooler than normal for summer standards.
  • As per IMD, the All India average temperature in 2020 recorded fell below normal and remained — January (- 0.6 degrees), February (+ 0.2 degrees), March (- 0.8 degrees) and April (- 0.1 degree). A similar trend is expected even in May.

Has cyclone Amphan influenced the current heatwave?

Since the event of severe heat has emerged immediately after the passing of Cyclone Amphan, experts confirm its role in leading to the present heatwave spell. Cyclone Amphan, which was a massive Super Storm covering 700 kms, managed to drag maximum moisture from over the Bay of Bengal, entire South Peninsula, parts of Central India and to some extent, even from the Arabian Sea.

All the moisture, that was otherwise built during the thunderstorm and rainfall, got gradually depleted from over vast areas as the storm advanced towards West Bengal and Bangladesh between May 16 and 20. It has now triggered dry north-westerly winds to blow over Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra causing severe heatwave.

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GS-II : Indian Polity
Delimitation Commission

Delimitation Commission

Context

The Delimitation Commission had a meeting on 28th May,2020,to review the progress of direction given by the Commission  in its first meeting held on 29th April,2020.

Earlier there was slight delay in organizing the first meeting due to ongoing lock down because of Covid 19 pandemic. Information on details of State Election Commissioner has been received from the State of Arunachal Pradesh,Assam,Manipur and Union Territory of Jammu&Kashmir.

What is Delimitation?

Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.

Why Delimitation?

  • To provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.
  • Fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
  • To follow the principle of “One Vote One Value”.

How delimitation is carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission.
  • The first delimitation exercise was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission) in 1950-51.
  • The Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Delimitation Commission

The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.

Composition:

  • Retired Supreme Court judge
  • Chief Election Commissioner
  • Respective State Election Commissioners

Functions:

  • To determine the number and boundaries of constituencies to make population of all constituencies nearly equal.
  • To identify seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, wherever their population is relatively large.

In case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the opinion of the majority prevails.

The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.

Current Position of Delimitation

In the 2009 General elections, 499 out of total 543 Parliamentary constituencies were newly delimited constituencies.

This affected the National Capital Region of Delhi, The Union territory of Puducherry and all other states except J&K, Arunachal Pradesh,Assam,Jharkhand,Manipur and Nagaland.

Problems with Delimitation

  • States that take little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament. The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced.
  • In 2008, Delimitation was done based on the 2001 census, but the total number of seats in the Assemblies and Parliament decided as per the 1971 Census was not changed.
  • The constitution has also capped the number of Lok Shaba & Rajya Sabha seats to a maximum of 550 & 250 respectively and increasing populations are being represented by a single representative.

Delimitation provisions of the J&K Constitution:

  • Delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Lok Sabha seats is governed by the Indian Constitution, but delimitation of its Assembly seats (until special status was abrogated recently) was governed separately by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.
  • As far as delimitation of Lok Sabha seats is concerned, the last Delimitation Commission of 2002 was not entrusted with this task. Hence, J&K parliamentary seats remain as delimited on the basis of the 1971 Census.
  • As for Assembly seats, although the delimitation provisions of the J&K Constitution and the J&K Representation of the People Act, 1957, are similar to those of the Indian Constitution and Delimitation Acts, they mandate a separate Delimitation Commission for J&K. In actual practice, the same central Delimitation Commission set up for other states was adopted by J&K in 1963 and 1973.
  • While the amendment of 1976 to the Indian Constitution suspended delimitation in the rest of the country till 2001, no corresponding amendment was made to the J&K Constitution.
  • Hence, unlike the rest of the country, the Assembly seats of J&K were delimited based on the 1981 Census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996.
  • There was no census in the state in 1991 and no Delimitation Commission was set up by the state government after the 2001 Census as the J&K Assembly passed a law putting a freeze on fresh delimitation until 2026. This freeze was upheld by the Supreme Court.

 

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GS-II :
National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)

Context

Union Human Resource Development Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank  interacted with Heads of more than 45,000 Higher Educational Institutions across the country today through Webinar hosted by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bengaluru. The Minister addressed and Interacted with a Galaxy of Academicians comprising participation from Vice Chancellors / Registrars / Professors / IQAC heads / Principals / Faculty from across the Nation.

What is NAAC?

  • It is an organisation that assesses and accredits higher education institutions (HEIs) in India.
  • It is an autonomous body funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • It is an outcome of the recommendations of the National Policy in Education (1986) which laid special emphasis on upholding the quality of higher education in India.
  • Headquartered in Bangalore.
  • The mandate of the NAAC as reflected in its vision statement is in making quality assurance an integral part of the functioning of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
  • The NAAC functions through its General Council (GC) and Executive Committee (EC) comprising of educational administrators, policymakers and senior academicians from the cross-section of Indian higher education system.

NAAC Procedure

The process of accreditation by NAAC was completely done on-site by a group of assessors. After the Revised Accreditation Framework in 2017, the following two-stage process is followed:

Stage 1

Institutions keen to be assessed should submit an Institutional Information for Quality Assessment (IIQA) and Self Study Report (SSR) to NAAC. The data submitted will then be validated.

Stage 2

This assessment will be based on various components, such as the number of faculties, the number of research journals in the library, and the number of international publications produced by the institute.

Various disciplinary measures are put in place for institutes and colleges for submitting incorrect data.

The on-site grading is still a part of the assessment process. It is just 30% of the process and is the last part of the NAAC assessment procedure.

Functions of NAAC

  • Periodic assessment and accreditation of institutions of higher education.
  • Stimulate the academic environment for the promotion of the quality of teaching-learning and research in higher education institutions.
  • Encourage self-evaluation, accountability, autonomy and innovations in higher education.
  • Undertake quality-related research studies, consultancy and training programmes.
  • Collaborate with other stakeholders of higher education for quality evaluation, promotion and sustenance.
  • HEIs with a record of at least two batches of students graduated, or that have been in existence for six years, whichever is earlier, are eligible to apply for the process of Assessment and Accreditation (A&A) of NAAC.
  • The NAAC accreditation does not cover distance education units of HEIs and offshore campuses.
  • It also does not accredit institutions providing technical education (that is covered by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), an organization established by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)).

Paramarsh Scheme

  • Paramarsh – is a scheme for mentoring the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) accreditation aspirant institutions to promote quality assurance in Higher Education.
  • The scheme will be operationalized through a “Hub & Spoke” model wherein the mentor institution, called the “Hub” is centralized and will have the responsibility of guiding the mentee institution through the “Spoke” i.e. through the services provided to the mentee for self-improvement.
  • It would also facilitate the sharing of information, knowledge and opportunities for research collaboration and faculty development in the mentee institutions.
  • It would aid in improving the accreditation culture, as the scheme aims at accrediting all the Higher Education Institutions by 2022.
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GS-III : Disaster and Disaster management
Locust attack: All about Locusts

Locust attack: How they arrived, the seriousness of the problem, and ways to solve it

What are ‘desert locusts’ doing in non-desert lands?

  • Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria), which belong to the family of grasshoppers, normally live and breed in semi-arid or desert regions.
  • For laying eggs, they require bare ground, which is rarely found in areas with dense vegetation. So, they can breed in Rajasthan but not in the Indo-Gangetic plains or Godavari and Cauvery delta.
  • But green vegetation is required for hopper development.
  • Hopper is the stage between the nymph that is hatched from the eggs, and the winged adult moth. Such cover isn’t widespread enough in the deserts to allow growth of large populations of locusts.
  • As individuals, or in small isolated groups, locusts are not very dangerous.
  • But when they grow into large populations their behaviour changes, they transform from ‘solitary phase’ into ‘gregarious phase’, and start forming ‘swarms’.
  • A single swarm can contain 40 to 80 million adults in one square km, and these can travel up to 150 km a day.
  • Large-scale breeding happens only when conditions turn very favourable in their natural habitat, desert or semi-arid regions.
  •  Good rains can sometimes generate just enough green vegetation that is conducive to egg-laying as well as hopper development.

This is what seems to have happened this year. These locusts usually breed in the dry areas around Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea along the eastern coast of Africa, a region known as the Horn of Africa.

Other breeding grounds are the adjoining Asian regions in Yemen, Oman, southern Iran, and in Pakistan’s Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Many of these areas received unusually good rains in March and April, and that resulted in large-scale breeding and hopper development.

  • These locusts started arriving in Rajasthan around the first fortnight of April, much ahead of the normal July-October normal.
  • The Locust Warning Organisation, a unit under the Agriculture Ministry, had spotted these and warned of their presence at Jaisalmer and Suratgarh in Rajasthan, and Fazilka in Punjab near the India-Pakistan border.

When July-October is the normal time, how did they arrive so early?

  • The answer to this question probably lies in the unusual cyclonic storms of 2018 in the Arabian Sea.
  • Cyclonic storms Mekunu and Luban had struck Oman and Yemen respectively that year.
  • Heavy rains had transformed uninhabited desert tracts into large lake where the locust swarms breed.
  • If left uncontrolled, a single swarm can increase 20 times of its original population in the first generation itself, and then multiply exponentially in subsequent generations.
  • Scientists of LWO had got the first whiff of impending problem in the 2019-20 rabi season when unusually active swarms were reported in Rajasthan, Gujarat and some parts of Punjab.
  • Control measures minimised damage in India during that time.
  • But further action could not be taken because of the lockdown around the world, and the swarms remained active in Yemen, Oman, Sindh and Balochistan areas.
  • The present swarms are their direct descendants, and are arriving in India in search of food

But why the further eastward movement?

  • The current swarms contain “immature locusts”. These feed voraciously on vegetation.
  • They consume roughly their own weight in fresh food every day, before they become ready for mating.
  • But right now Rajasthan does not offer enough to satisfy their hunger. With no crops in the field, they have been invading green spaces, including parks, in Jaipur and orange orchards near Nagpur.
  • LWO estimates that at present there are three or four active swarms in Rajasthan while Madhya Pradesh has two to three of them. A small group deviated into Maharashtra as well.
  • Once they start breeding, the swarm movement will cease or slow. Also, the breeding will happen mainly in Rajasthan.
  • Apart from the search for food, their movement has been aided by westerly winds that were, this time, further strengthened by the low pressure area created by Cyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Locusts are known to be passive flyers, and generally follow the wind. But they do not take off in very strong windy conditions.

So, what damage have they caused?

  • So far, not much, since the rabi crop has already been harvested, and farmers are yet to really start kharif sowings.
  • The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has, however, predicted “several successive waves of invasions until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India right up to Bihar and Odisha”.
  • But after July, there would be westward movements of the swarms that will return to Rajasthan on the back of changing winds associated with the southwest monsoon.
  • The danger is when they start breeding. A single gregarious female locust can lay 60-80 eggs three times during its average life cycle of 90 days.
  • If their breeding is coterminous with that of the kharif crop, we could well have a situation similar to what maize, sorghum and wheat farmers of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia experienced in March-April.

How can these pests be controlled?

  • Historically, locust control has involved spraying of organo-phospate pesticides on the night resting places of the locusts.
  • On May 26, the Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow, advised farmers to spray chemicals like lambdacyhalothirn, deltamethrin, fipronil, chlorpyriphos, or malathion to control the swarms.
  • However, the Centre had on May 14 banned the use of chlorpyriphos and deltamethrin.
  • Malathion is also included in the list of banned chemicals but has been subsequently allowed for locust control.
  • Special mounted guns are used to spray the chemicals on the resting places and India has 50 such guns, and 60 more are expected to arrive from UK by the first week of June. Drones are also being used this year.
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GS-III : Disaster and Disaster management
A joint fight by India and Pakistan, over the years: To control the Locusts swarms

A joint fight by India and Pakistan, over the years: To control the Locusts swarms

  • In 1993, as swarms of locusts started coming into Jaisalmer.
  • As another locust swarm comes from Pakistan. The Ministry of External Affairs says it has reached out to Pakistan for cooperation, and is awaiting their response. Despite the ups and downs in the bilateral relationship, cooperation on the locust warning system has survived the wars, terrorist attacks, and political turmoil.

History of outbreaks

  • While legend has it that locusts were part of the Mahabharata during Karna’s battle with Arjuna, modern-day records suggest that since the beginning of the 19th century, there have been at least eight “outbreaks” in India from 1812 to 1889, and a ninth in 1896-1897.
  • According to history of the Locust Warning Office published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there were “serious invasions” of locusts in India every few years during the 1900s.
  • A “five-year invasion” from 1926 to 1931 is estimated to have to have damaged crops worth Rs 2 crore (about $100 million at today’s prices).
  • The princely states and provinces had their own structures to deal with this, but there was no coordination.
  • After the 1926-32 “invasion”, the British Indian government sponsored a research scheme, starting 1931, which led to the permanent Locust Warning Organization (LWO) in 1939, with its headquarters in New Delhi and a substation in Karachi.
  • In 1941, a conference of princely states in desert areas and provinces affected by locusts was held.
  • Its role was expanded in 1942, and in 1946 a bureaucratic structure was put in place.

Beginning of cooperation

  • Iran too suffered locust attacks, in 1876, and in 1926-1932.
  • The first case of collaboration between countries in the region occurred in 1942 when a delegation from India helped with locust control work in southwest Persia. Over the next two years, Indian help was also provided to Oman and Persia.
  • This was followed by the first conference within the region on Desert Locust, which was held in Tehran in 1945 and involved Iran, India, Saudi Arabia and Egyp.
  • A second conference took place in 1950 also in Tehran with Pakistan .
  • In the 1950s, India and Iran cooperated and Pakistan provided two aircraft for locust surveys in Saudi Arabia. Following another attack during 1958-61, a decision was taken to group Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India together and the FAO Desert Locust commission was formed in 1964.
  • The commission held annual sessions, skipped in 1965 and 1999 but held in 1971. Even in the last six years when the relationship between India and Pakistan has deteriorated, it has been held in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
  • The meetings are attended by locust control experts, with no diplomats.

India and Pakistan

  • In 1977, the two countries began to meet on the border. From 1991 to 2003, special border surveys took place during the summer, undertaken by locust control officers in their respective countries.
  • Joint border meetings have taken place every year since 2005 till 2019, except in 2011. This has been despite every diplomatic strain, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
  • Monthly meetings are held between June and October-November at Zero Point, west of Barmer, Rajasthan and east of Chor, Tharparkar.
  • Three to four officers from each country normally attend. Each country takes turns at hosting the meeting on its respective side of the border.
  • Arrangements are made in advance and protocols are followed for crossing the border. The meeting is held in the morning. “Fortnightly bulletins, FAO bulletins and maps showing survey locations, locust infestations, green vegetation and rainfall in each country are exchanged and discussed,” the report on their activities said.
  • While politics and diplomacy is kept out of the technical discussions, locust control authorities feel that one of the more difficult challenges faced by the commission is that of “insecurity and sensitivities” in the region.
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GS-III :
Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET)

Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET)

  • Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET) has been renamed as Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET), a premier national institution under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Govt. of India.
  • The changed name has been registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act 1975 ( Tamil Nadu Act 27 of 1975)
  • CIPET will be in a position to fully devote itself  for the growth of entire petrochemical sector with a focus on Academics, Skilling, Technology Support and Research.
  • The primary objective of CIPET has been contributing towards the growth of the plastics industry through a combined program of education and research.
  • The Institute has evolved through the years, creating closer ties with industries with the intent to create innovative plastic based solutions which are resource efficient and marketable.
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GS-III :
UV-C light source for Germicidal Irradiation

UV-C light source for Germicidal Irradiation

  • Naval Dockyard (Mumbai) has manufactured a UV sanitisation bay to meet this emerging requirement. The UV bay will be utilised for decontamination of tools, clothes and other miscellaneous items, to control spread of the coronavirus.
  • The challenging task required ingenuity to convert a large common room into a UV bay by fabrication of aluminum sheets electrical arrangements for UV-C lighting.
  • The facility utilises UV-C light source for Germicidal Irradiation towards sterilising items.
  • Studies by reputed research agencies have proven the effect of UV-C on respiratory pathogens like SARS, Influenza etc.
  • It has been observed that microbial pathogens become significantly less viable when exposed to UV-C of intensity 1 J/cm2 for 1 min or more, indicating effective sterilisation.
  • A similar facility has also been set up at Naval Station (Karanja), where in addition to UV-C steriliser, an industrial oven has also been placed, which heats smaller sized belongings to 60°C, a temperature known to kill most microbes.
  • The facility is placed at the entry/ exit points where it will help in mitigating COVID-19 transmission.
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GS-I : Social issues
Hansa Jivraj Mehta

Hansa Jivraj Mehta

Hansa Jivraj Mehta a social activist served in the constituent assembly from 1946-1949, was a Padma Bhushan awardee. She was a member of the Fundamental rights sub-committee, the advisory committee and the provincial constitutional committee.

Hansa Mehta’s most significant contribution to the constituent assembly debates was in trying to make the Uniform Civil Code(UCC) a justiciable part of the constitution.

She also served as a member of the UN sub committee on the United National Declaration of Human Rights committee. She successfully championed her cause changing the phrase in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, from “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal.”

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Credit scores

Credit scores

A credit score determines how creditworthy a person is and helps banks and financial institutions decide on loans. In India, the scores are issued by credit reporting agencies such as CIBIL, Equifax, Experian, Etc.

These agencies are regulated by the RBI and collect data from banks on their loans and come up with credit scores through use of algorithms. The data is updated frequently. Credit scores in India range from 300-900. A credit report may be obtained for free once a year from every credit reporting agency.

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GS-III :
NASA’s Kilopower Project

NASA’s Kilopower Project

NASA has invented a small nuclear reactor Kilopower, It can generate a reliable power supply by using uranium-235 reactor core. This power system could provide up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power enough to run two average households continuously for at least 10 years. This reactor will be used for electronic propulsion systems and for providing safe and plentiful energy for future robotic and human missions for Mars and beyond.

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GS-II :
National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN)

National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN)

National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is an ambitious initiative to trigger a broadband revolution in rural areas. It aims to connect all the Gram panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all gram panchayats (GPs).

Bharat Net      

  • BharatNet project was establish in 2017, to provide digital infrastructure on a non-discriminatory basis by an affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households.
  • The entire project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country.
  • The objective is to facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to the rural India.
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GS-III :
5G technology

5G technology

Union telecom ministry had announced 5G technology will be rolled out from 2020. 5G promises ultra-reliable, very fast speeds and high bandwidth mobile connectivity and supports massive interconnected devices spread across wide areas like Internet of things (IoT). This would entail accelerating the BharatNet programme for deploying connectivity infrastructures.

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GS-II : Indian Polity
Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC)

Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC)

At present, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is a three-member body, with one Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and two Election Commissioners (EC).

  • Under Article 324(2) of the Constitution of India, the President of India is empowered to appoint the CEC and the ECs.
  • Article 324(2) also empowers the President of India to fix from time to time the number of Election Commissioners other than the CEC.
  • When any other election commissioner is so appointed the CEC shall act as the chairman of the election commission.
  • All Election commissioners have equal powers and receive equal salary allowances and other perquisites which are similar to those of a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • If the CEC and other ECs differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided by according to the opinion of the majority
  • The CEC or an EC holds office for a term of six years from the date on which he assumes his office or until he attains the age of 65 years before the expiry of six years term.
  • Apart from other election commissioners CEC is provided with security of tenure he can be removed from his office only on the basis resolution passed in parliament with special majority in both the houses (Impeachment process).

Key points to remember

  • The constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) for the CEC or any other members of Election commission.
  • The constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
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GS-III :
Automated ocean pollution observation system

Automated ocean pollution observation system

Union government has planned to setup an automated ocean pollution observation system. These systems will be installed in coastal areas of West Bengal, Goa, Mumbai, Kochi, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai.

It will help keep a tab on ocean pollution levels apart and provides insights on how the marine system is changing. It is an initiative under National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

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GS-II : Governance
Accessible India Campaign (AIC)

Accessible India Campaign (AIC)

It is a nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The aim of the Campaign is to make a barrier free and conducive environment for differently abled all over the country.

For creating universal accessibility for differently abled persons the campaign has been divided into three verticals:

  • Built Environment.
  • Transport.
  • Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.

This campaign is in line with UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) to which India is a signatory.

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GS-III :
UN Environment Management Group (EMG)

UN Environment Management Group (EMG)

The EMG is a UN system-wide coordination body on environment and human settlements. Its members include the secretariats of the multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and other specialized agencies, programmes and organs of the UN.

Representatives of intergovernmental bodies, civil society and international non-governmental organizations can be invited to contribute. The EMG works through technical meetings, Issue Management Groups and task forces.

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GS-II :
Export control regime

Export control regime

Australia Group

Recently the Australia Group admitted (2018) India as its 43rd participant. India’s entry would contribute to international security and non-proliferation objectives.

The Australia Group (AG) is an informal forum of countries which, seeks to ensure export controls over development of chemical or biological weapons. By this AG nations would fulfil their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention to the fullest extent possible.

 

MTCR

It is a multilateral, consensus based grouping of 35 member countries who are voluntarily committed to the non-proliferation of missiles capable of carrying chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

It controls the export of the technologies and materials involved in ballistic missile systems and unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. This is a non–treaty association which has a rule-based regulation mechanism to limit the transfer of such critical technologies of these missile systems.

India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2016.

 

Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)

The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) has been established in order to contribute to regional and international security and stability.  It promotes transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilising accumulations.

The aim is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists. Participating States ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities. India became a member of WA in 2017.

 

NSG

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development. NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests.

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GS-III : Internal security
Cyber Surakshit Bharat

Cyber Surakshit Bharat

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), announced the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative. It aims to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.

Cyber Surakshit Bharat is the first public-private partnership of its kind and will leverage the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity. Cyber Surakshit Bharat aims to conduct a series of training programs for departments in State and Union governments,Public Sector Banks, and technical arms of the Air Force, Army and Navy.

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