UPSC Courses

What caused the tilt to Saturn’s rotation axis?

What caused the tilt of Saturn’s rotation axis? The tilt of the rotation axis of the gas giant Saturn may in fact be caused by its moons, scientists from CNRS, Sorbonne University and the University of Pisa have reported (Nature Astronomy). The current tilt of Saturn's rotation axis is caused by the migration of its satellites, and especially by that of its largest moon, Titan. Recent observations have shown that Titan and the other moons are gradually moving away from Satur

China’s nuclear power plant

China’s nuclear power plant China National Nuclear Corporation said its first nuclear power unit that uses Hualong One, a third-generation reactor, started commercial operation. The reactor, located in Fuqing city in China’s southeastern Fujian province, was designed to have a 60-year lifespan, with its core equipment domestically produced. Each unit of the Hualong No. 1 has a capacity of 1.161 million kilowatts and can meet the annual domestic electricity demand of 1 million p


Novavax American company Novavax, whose COVID-19 vaccine is set to be made in large numbers by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), has reported that its vaccine has proved to have 89% efficacy in preventing the infection in some trial volunteers in the United Kingdom. However, the efficacy dropped to 60% when it was tested in volunteers in South Africa, a likely consequence of a mutant coronavirus variant that is now deep-rooted there. Since December, scientists have raised

Russia gave nod to New START Treaty

Russia gave a nod to New START New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. It was signed in 2010 at Prague, and, after ratification entered into force in 2011, it is expected to last at least until 2021. New START replaced the Treaty of Moscow (SORT), which was to expire in December 2012. It follows t

Judicial Appointments in India

Judicial Appointments in India What is Collegium? Collegium system of the Supreme Court (SC) and the High Courts (HCs) of India is based on the precedence established by the “Three Judges Cases (1982, 1993, 1998) “. It is a legally valid system of appointment and transfer of judges in the SC and all HCs. It is a system of checks and balance, which ensures the independence of the senior judiciary in India. The Judges Cases The First Judges Case (1981) ruled tha

Minister Harsh Vardhan nominated to GAVI Board

Minister Harsh Vardhan nominated to GAVI Board The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan was recently nominated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, GAVI as a member of GAVI board. The term of the minister as a member in the GAVI board will be between 2021 and 2023.  Dr Harsh Vardhan was elected as the chair of the World Health Organization. GAVI Board The GAVI Board is responsible for policy making, providing strategic directions

Judicial Appointments in India

Judicial Appointments and Vacancies in India Judicial Vacancies has been the issue of Indian Judiciary since a long time now. Click here to read more on the UPSC Facts and Data for Vacancies in Indian Judiciary. Some Constitutional Provisions related to appoint of Judges Article 124(2) of the Indian Constitution provides that the Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President after consultation with such a number of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of t

Green Tax

Green Tax The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has approved a proposal to levy a ‘green tax’ on old vehicles. Personal vehicles will be charged a tax at the time of renewal of Registration Certification after 15 years. The policy will come into effect from April 1, 2022. Provisions The levy may differ depending on fuel (petrol/diesel) and type of vehicle. The proposal will now go to the States for consultation before it is formally notified. It

Padma Awards 2021

Padma Awards 2021 On the evening of 72nd Republic Day, India honoured 119 people from the diverse fields with the Padma Awards. Highlights These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions at Rashtrapati Bhawan.. It also includes 10 persons from the category of Foreigners or NRI or PIO or OCI,16 Posthumous awardees and 1 transgender awardee. Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has conferred the award (Posthumous) in Public Affairs Bihar category. Padma Awa

SpaceX creates new world record after launching 143 satellites on a single rocket

SpaceX creates a new world record after launching 143 satellites on a single rocket SpaceX, an aerospace company, has beaten the record of the Indian Space Research Organisation- ISRO where it deployed 104 satellites in February 2017 in a single launch. The reusable rocket launched 143 satellites to space which are part of the SmallSat Rideshare program of SpaceX from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

India-France air exercise: Desert Knight 2021 

India-France air exercise: Desert Knight 2021  Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat flew on a French Air Force mid-air refueller aircraft at the India-France air exercise Desert Knight 2021 which concluded on Saturday, the IAF said. The IAF is looking at leasing six mid-air refuelling tankers for which Airbus A330 is the lead contender. A first-of-its-kind bilateral exercise, Rafale aircraft from both sides along with Su-30 MKI and Mirage 2000 aircraft of the IAF undertoo

Prison Tourism Project of Maharashtra

Prison Tourism Project of Maharashtra The State government will open to visitors jails which once held freedom fighters The Maharashtra government is set to launch “jail tourism” under which historically significant jails in Maharashtra, which are still being used as penal centres, will be opened to visitors to see the barracks where freedom fighters were imprisoned by the British. “Pune’s Yerawada Jail will be opened for first-of-its-kind jail touris

Romulus’ Krait: New Species of Snake

Romulus’ Krait: New Species of Snake A study of snakes in southern and western India has identified a new species of snake. Named the Romulus’ krait (Bungarus romulusi) after the ‘snake man of India’, Romulus Whittaker, the species has so far remained undetected because of its similarity in appearance to the common krait (B. caeruleus) and only a careful genetic analysis revealed that the two were distinct species. The study also showed that some kraits i

Nikhil Srivastava is joint winner of maths prize

Nikhil Srivastava is joint winner of maths prize Indian mathematician Nikhil Srivastava has been named winner of the prestigious 2021 Michael and Sheila Held Prize along with two others for solving long-standing questions on the Kadison–Singer problem and on Ramanujan graphs. Srivastava from the University of California, Berkeley, Adam Marcus, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Daniel Alan Spielman from Yale University will receive the 2021 Michael an

Bhashan Char Island

Bhashan Char Island Key Facts The Bangladesh Authorities recently moved around 1,750 Rohingya Muslims to a controversial island in the Bay of Bengal called the “Bhashan Char Island”.  About Bhashan Char The island is also known as Char Piya. It is in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh. The island is located in the Bay of Bengal about 6 kilometres from Sandwip island. How the island was formed? The island was formed in the year 2006 by Himalayan silt. A

UPSC Attempts for Civil Services?

UPSC next attempt The Union government’s law officer orally informed the Supreme Court on Friday that the Centre was “not agreeable” to giving Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants, whose preparations for the October 4 prelims were severely restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a second crack at the exams for the elite civil services.   UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION (UPSC)            &nb

First-ever Khelo India Zanskar Winter Sports Festival begins in Ladakh

First-ever Khelo India Zanskar Winter Sports Festival begins in Ladakh Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju inaugurated the first-ever Khelo India Zanskar Winter Sports Festival on January 21, 2021, at Padum in Zanskar of Kargil district.  The 13-day festival has been organised by the Ladakh UT Administration to promote Zanskar as a winter tourist destination. The Union Sports Minister said that Zanskar used to remain cut off from the rest of the world for 5-6 months d

CoWIN software enhanced for vaccine rollout

CoWIN software enhanced for vaccine rollout An enhancement in Co-WIN software has been introduced to cater to the creation of more session sites, more sessions per site, and a change in site location, which is now allowed. “The enhanced version also allows planning and scheduling the sessions for entire week and works for the enhanced safety of the beneficiaries, tagging of contraindications. These new features are being enabled in vaccinator module,. Health Minister Harsh Vardh

Joe Biden inaugurated as 46th US President, Kamala Harris sworn-in as first female US Vice President

Joe Biden inaugurated as the 46th US President, and Kamala Harris sworn in as first female US Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States in the 59th inauguration ceremony at the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. He is the oldest US President to take the oath, as he turned 78 years old in November 2020.  Kamala Harris also created history by becoming the first female, African-American and Asian-American to b

Dragonfruit renamed as 'Kamalam'

Dragonfruit renamed as 'Kamalam' The Gujarat government has decided to rename the dragon fruit as ‘kamalam’, and comments have flooded the Internet and social media platforms. According to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, the fruit’s outer shape resembles a lotus, which is also the election symbol of the BJP.   “We have applied for a patent of the dragon fruit to be called ‘kamalam’, Mr Rupani said at the launch of the Chief Minister Hort

Dr. V Shanta passed away

Dr. V Shanta passed away A pioneer in cancer care in the country, and the chairperson of the Adyar Cancer Institute, V. Shanta breathed her last in Chennai early on Tuesday morning. She was admitted to Apollo Hospitals after she complained of chest pain on Monday night. She was 93.   A crusader for cancer research and making cancer care affordable for all, Dr. Shanta and her mentor S. Krishnamurthi built the Cancer Institute from a cottage hospital into a 500-plus bedde

Budget Session to have Question Hour

Budget Session to have Question Hour The Question Hour, which had been suspended by the government during the monsoon session, will resume when Parliament meets for the Budget session on January 29. The government had claimed that the suspension of Question Hour, which gives the Opposition an opportunity to hold the government accountable, was an additional precautionary measure to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension had been strongly criticised by the Opposition. During the

New Orvakal Airport

New Orvakal Airport The Orvakal airport on the outskirts of Kurnool city in Andhra Pradesh has got the approval of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after the completion of all the mandatory safety inspections and the creation of infrastructure. “With all the efforts and budgetary support of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath, the Kurnool / Orvakal airport got the DGCA approval after completion of works as per its sp

Musaveni win in Uganda for the 6th time

Museveni win in Uganda for the 6th time Uganda’s Electoral Commission said on Saturday that President Yoweri Museveni won a sixth five-year term, extending his rule to four decades, while top opposition challenger Bobi Wine dismissed “cooked-up, fraudulent results” and officials struggled to explain how polling results were compiled amid an Internet blackout. In a generational clash watched across the African continent with a booming young population and a host of

Do plants share genetic material with each other?

Do plants share genetic material with each other? The genetic material of plants and animals is well protected in the nucleus of each cell and stores all the information that forms an organism. In addition, cells contain small organelles that contain their own genetic material. These include chloroplasts in plants, which play a key role in photosynthesis, and mitochondria, which are found in all living organisms and represent the power plants of every cell. Scientists at the

Flight Lieutanant Bhawana Kanth

Flight Lieutanant Bhawana Kanth Bhawana Kanth is to become the first woman fighter pilot to take part in the Republic Day parade. She was one of the first women fighter Pilots inducted into the Indian Air Force in 2016. The other fighter pilots inducted into the Indian Air Force were Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh. Bhawana Kanth In 2019, Bhawana Kanth became the first female fighter pilot of India to qualify to undertake combat missions. She received the Na

Air India flight between Hyderabad and Chicago

Air India flight between Hyderabad and Chicago The first-ever non-stop service of Air India between Hyderabad and Chicago commenced with the maiden flight arriving at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) here early on Friday. The flight, operating on Wednesdays, left Chicago at 21.30 hours (local time) on January 13 and arrived at 1 a.m. The return flight AI-107 from Hyderabad to Chicago, which operates once a week every Friday, left Hyderabad at 12.50 p.m. to arrive in Chicago


SWITCH UAV The Indian Army has signed a $20-million contract with ideaForge, a player in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, to procure undisclosed quantities of a high-altitude variant of SWITCH UAV, an indigenous system used in surveillance operations. SWITCH UAV is an indigenous system built to cater to the most demanding surveillance operations of the Indian forces. This fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing UAV can be deployed at high altitudes and under harsh environ

List of all valleys of India

List of all valleys of India Dzukou Valley wildfire The wildfire at Dzukou Valley, straddling the Manipur-Nagaland border, has been doused after it raged for two weeks, officials said on Monday. No fresh fire or smoke was visible. The Dzukou Valley, situated at an average altitude of 2,452 metres, is a popular trekking destination known for its exotic flowers. List of all valleys of India Araku Valley = Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh Barak Valley


Autism What is Autism? Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a broad term used to describe a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. These disorders are characterized by problems with communication and social interaction. People with ASD often demonstrate restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped interests or patterns of behaviour. ASD is found in individuals around the world, regardless of race, culture, or economic background. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (

Abhilash Tomy

Abhilash Tomy Commander Tomy, the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe solo and unassisted in a sailing yacht, intends to give another shot at the Golden Globe Race next year. The GGR, as it is called, is a daredevil ocean race with basic, read vintage, sailing equipment which he attempted in 2018. But a vicious storm in the southern Indian Ocean dismasted him and he sustained a spinal injury. He was subsequently rescued in a multi-nation effort and had to undergo surgery.

All woman cockpit crew

All woman cockpit crew The first non-stop flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru, flown by four women pilots, landed at Kempegowda International airport in Bengaluru at 3.07 am on Monday, flying over the North Pole and covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometers. The flight was operated by an all-women cockpit crew of Captain Zoya Aggarwal (P1), Captain Papagari Thanmai (P1), Captain Akansha Sonaware (P2) and Captain Shivani Manhas (P2), who responded to the cheers and clapping by

Iran and South Korea

Iran and South Korea Iran warned on Monday its seizure of a South Korean tanker in the Gulf must not be politicised after the U.S. and France urged the Islamic Republic to release the ship. “We have repeatedly told... the intervening parties, whether they are the United States or France, that the case does not concern them at all and that they will not help to solve a technical problem if they politicise it,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh. The Islamic Re

Author Ved Mehta passes away

Author Ved Mehta passes away Celebrated Indian-American author Ved Mehta, who overcame blindness and became widely known as the 20th-century writer most responsible for introducing American readers to India, died in the U.S. on Saturday. The New Yorker magazine, where he had been a staff writer for 33 years, announced the death on Sunday. Mehta was born in pre-Partition Lahore into a well-off Punjabi family in 1934. He lost his eyesight at the age of three from meningitis. He did not

What is Co-WIN?

What is Co-WIN? In good measure, the dry runs were not only a step to test the operational feasibility of various States to roll out the vaccine programme effectively, but also a recce to see if the electronic vaccine intelligence network, eVIN, used during routine immunisation programmes, and remodelled as Co-WIN, was functional at the field-level. Co-WIN aspires to be a comprehensive digital database of every COVID-19 vaccine that will be administered in India — tracking benefici

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of USA Constitution

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the USA Constitution Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows for the immediate removal of the President “whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties

Ms. Sumona Guha

Ms Sumona Guha The Biden-Harris transition team announced the appointment of Indian-American Sumona Guha to the role of Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council. Ms. Guha co-chaired the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-Harris campaign, and was a member of the transition team. She will succeed the Trump administration’s Lisa Curtis in the role. Ms. Guha, a former Foreign Service officer, has been a senior vice-president since mid-2018 a

Indian Diaspora: Raj Iyer

Indian Diaspora: Raj Iyer Indian-American Raj Iyer has taken over as the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the U.S. Army after the Pentagon created the position in July 2020. One of the highest ranking Indian-American civilians in the U.S. Department of Defense, Dr. Iyer, who holds a PhD. in Electrical Engineering, serves as the Principal Adviser to the Secretary of the Army and directs representation of the Secretary in matters relating to information management/ information tech

World food price index by FAO

World food price index by FAO World food prices rose for a seventh consecutive month in December, with all the major categories, barring sugar, posting gains last month, the United Nations food agency said. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 107.5 points last month versus 105.2 in November. For the whole of 2020, the benchmark index averaged 97.

Indian activist gets U.S’ International Anti-corruption Champions Award

Indian activist gets U.S’ International Anti-corruption Champions Award About Anjali Bhardwaj She is a 48-year-old activist who is also the founder of ‘Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS)’. SNS is a citizens’ group that promotes transparency and accountability in government and also encourages the active participation of citizens. She has also served as an active member in the “Right to Information Movement” in India. She is a convener of the National

Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala of Nigeria becomes first female chief of WTO

Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala of Nigeria becomes the first female chief of the WTO The former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala has become the next Chief of the World Trade Organisation. She will hold the position from March 1, 2021, to August 31, 2025. Okonjo- Iweala has become the first woman and African to hold the position at WTO. About Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala: The 66 years old Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala is trained as a development economist. In her home country Nigeria

Pangolin and Porcupine

Pangolin and Porcupine Pangolin Out of the 8 species of Pangolin in the World, Indian and Chinese Pangolin are found in India. Indian Pangolin The Indian pangolin is an endangered animal that is rarely sighted in forests. The Indian Pangolin is the only scaly mammal hunted for meat and used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are nocturnal. Indian Pangolins are among the most trafficked wildlife species in the World. The projected population declines range from 50

Nendran Banana grit or granules

Nendran Banana grit or granules Scientists at the CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) at Pappanamcode in Kerala have come up with a new product, banana grit or granules, developed from raw Nendran bananas. Billed as an ideal ingredient for a healthy diet, banana grit can be used for making a wide range of dishes, according to the NIIST. The product resembles ‘Rava’ and broken wheat. “The concept was introduced to utilis

Malayalam poet-lyricist Anil Panachooran passed away

Malayalam poet-lyricist Anil Panachooran passed away Poet and lyricist Anil Panachooran were 55. A lawyer by profession, Panachooran came into the limelight in 2007 with the much-appreciated songs in Arabikkadha, including ‘Chora Veena Mannil...’ and ‘Thirike Njan...’. ‘Chora Veena Mannil...’, sung with revolutionary fervour by the poet himself, is played regularly at Left cultural events. Then came the song ‘Vyathyasthanam oru barber...&rsqu

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) ICMR is India’s apex scientific body for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research. It was established in 1911 as Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) making it one of oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. ICMR functions under Dept of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. HQ - Delhi. Presided by Health Minister. Director General– Prof. Balram Bhargava. It pub

Evolution of Life

Evolution of Life Chemists have come up with a new proposition for how life may have begun. In a study published in Angewandte Chemie, the researchers showed a simple compound diamidophosphate could have knitted together the building blocks of DNA to form the primordial structures. The possibility is that DNA and RNA arose together and that the first life forms were a mixture of the two.

UNDP and PCMC join hands for ‘first social impact bond’

 UNDP and PCMC join hands for ‘first social impact bond’ Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Pune has recently signed an MoU with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India to co-create India’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB). This is the first time that a government body will act as the ‘outcome funder’ in a bond, whereas traditionally most government-funded public projects require large and early investments by the govern

Legendary Music Director Shantanu Mohapatra passes away

Legendary Music Director Shantanu Mohapatra passes away Legendary Odia musician, Shantanu Mohapatra passed away. He was the first Odia music composer to work with legends like Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey and Md Rafi and also the first to work in Hindi, Bengali, Assamese and Telugu film industries. Mohapatra has composed music for hundreds of Odia film songs and Jatra (opera) shows in a career that spanned over three decades. Mohapatra, who retired as the Director of Odisha Min

IFSCA becomes Associate Member of IOSCO

 IFSCA becomes Associate Member of IOSCO The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has become an Associate Member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). The headquarters of IOSCO is at Madrid, Spain. The IOSCO is the international organization of the world’s securities regulators, covering more than 95% of the world’s securities markets, and is also the global standard-setter for the se

Light House Projects

Light House Projects  Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Light House projects (LHPs) at six sites across six States through a video conference on 1st January 2021. The LHPs will be implemented in Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ranchi (Jharkhand), and Agartala (Tripura) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). The project is being constructed under the Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC

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