News Crux Science & Technology

EZIE & EUVST: Two Heliophysics Missions


The US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has approved two heliophysics missions. Heliophysics is the science of understanding the Sun and its interactions with Earth and the solar system, including space weather.

Of the two missions, NASA will lead the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer or EZIE mission, while it would contribute to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)-led Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission (EUVST) mission.

NASA’s EZIE Mission

  • The EZIE mission will study the atmosphere of the Earth and the electric currents in it, which link the aurora to the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is a complex space weather system that responds to several factors, including solar activity. The levels of geomagnetic activity are commonly measured by the Auroral Electrojet (AE) index, even as scientists do not currently understand the details regarding the currents’ structure.
  • NASA has slated the mission for launch in June 2024.

JAXA’s Solar-C EUVST Mission

  • A solar telescope, the EUVST would be studying the solar wind released by the solar atmosphere, as well as studying how this atmosphere drives solar material eruption. Studying them is important because they impact the space radiation environment throughout the solar system.
  • The mission is aimed to be launched in 2026.

News Crux Science & Technology

DRDO, Indian Navy Conduct Successful Trial Of SAHAYAK-NG


  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with Indian Navy conducted the successful maiden test trial of SAHAYAK-NG - India’s first indigenously designed and developed Air Dropped Container from IL 38SD aircraft of Indian Navy off the coast of Goa.
  • The trial was conducted by Indian Navy to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships which are deployed more than 2000 kilometres from the coast. It reduces the requirement of ships to come close to the coast to collect spares and stores.
  • SAHAYAK-NG is an advanced version of SAHAYAK Mk I. The newly developed GPS aided air dropped container is having the capability to carry a payload that weighs upto 50 kg and can be dropped from heavy aircraft.

News Crux National

India To Export Akash Missile System


  • The Union Cabinet has approved the export of Akash Missile System and a Committee for faster Approvals has been created.
  • The Akash missile system (surface-to-air missile with a range of 25 kilometres) is an important defence asset for the country with over 96 per cent indigenization.
  • Developed by DRDO, it is India’s first indigenously designed missile system and can target fighter jets, cruise missiles, drones and other aerial assets.


News Crux National

R P Tiwari Committee


  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has set up a seven-member committee on December 23, headed by Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Punjab R P Tiwari, to consider the issue of holding common entrance test at undergraduate level only from the next academic year.
  • It is the first attempt, after the introduction of the new National Education Policy, at moving away from unrealistic cut-off marks for admissions to universities.

News Crux States In News

Gujarat’s New Solar Power Policy-2021


Gujarat Government has announced its new Solar Power Policy - 2021.

Finer Points

  • Any person, developer or industry can set up a solar project in its premises or land without any limit.
  • A limit of only 50 per cent of sanctioned load/contract demand for industry to set up the solar project has been removed in the new policy.
  • This policy will bring down power cost to industry from Rs. 8 per unit to around Rs. 4.50.
  • It will reduce the production cost, which will help the state manufacturers to be globally competitive.
  • The power consumers will be able to set up solar projects on their rooftop or vacant place. They can also offer their space to third party for power generation and utilization.
  • Security deposit given to power companies has been cut from Rs. 25 lakh per MW to Rs. 5 lakh per MW.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

India's Highest Meteorological Centre Inaugurated At Leh


  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has set up India's highest (Located at 3,500 metres above sea level) Meteorological Centre (MC) at Leh.
  • After Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, the Leh centre is the second MC located in the Himalayas.
  • It will provide specialised weather forecasts for traffic movement on highways, agriculture, and defence personnel from its Ladakh centre.
  • Even though there are only two districts, Kargil and Leh, the Union Territory has varying micro-climatic zones ranging from plains, cold desert, hills and extreme dry places. All these micro-climatic regions require specific and localised weather monitoring and information.
  • The IMD will install ten Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) at key locations — Nubra and Zanskar valleys, Pangong Tso, Drass and Kargil.
  • Being a seismologically active region, the scientists will also gather seismological data here.

News Crux National

India’s First Lithium Refinery To Come Up In Gujarat


  • India’s first Lithium refinery which will process Lithium ore to produce battery-grade material will be set up in Gujarat.
  • Manikaran Power Limited, one of the country’s largest power trading and renewable energy company will set up this refinery.
  • With India poised to become one of the largest electric car market of the world, the country is also looking to access raw materials like Lithium needed to produce batteries. India currently imports most of the Lithium needed.
  • Lithium is a rare element not usually found in India. The company will be importing Lithium ore from Australia and will be processing it here.
  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol ‘Li’ and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in mineral oil. It never occurs freely in nature, but only in (usually ionic) compounds, such as pegmatitic minerals, which were once the main source of lithium.

News Crux Science & Technology

DRDO Lab Develops QRNG


The DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory for Quantum Technologies (DYSL-QT), a DRDO facility based in Mumbai, has developed a Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) which has the ability to detect random quantum events and convert those into a stream of binary digits.

  • The facility has developed a fiber-optic branch path based QRNG. Branch path-based QRNG relies on the principle that if a single photon falls on a balanced beam splitter, it will take either of the beam-splitter output paths randomly. As the path chosen by the photon is random, the randomness is translated to a sequence of binary digits, also called bits.

Importance of Random Numbers

  • Random numbers have essential roles in various fields ranging from quantum communication, cryptography applications like key generation, key wrapping, and authentication along with scientific simulations, lotteries and fundamental physics experiments.
  • The generation of perfect randomness is generally considered impossible with classical methodologies. Quantum mechanics has the inherent potential of providing true random numbers and thus has become the preferred option for scientific applications requiring randomness.

About Young Scientist Laboratories

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has identified five niche technology areas and established the following Young Scientist Laboratories (YSLs) in year 2019:

  • Artificial Intelligence (DYSL-AI), Bengaluru
  • Quantum Technologies (DYSL-QT), Mumbai
  • Cognitive Technologies (DYSL-CT), Chennai
  • Asymmetric Technologies (DYSL-AT), Kolkata
  • Smart Materials (DYSL-SM), Hyderabad

Another Recent DRDO Feat on Quantum Technology

  • On December 8, the DRDO also successfully demonstrated Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology between two laboratories in Hyderabad, where the quantum technology-based security was validated for a range of 12 km long over a fibre optic channel.
  • QKD is primarily a mechanism to undertake secure communication, which utilises a cryptographic protocol involving various components of quantum mechanics.
  • The technology enables two communicating sides to come up with random secret keys shared by both of them and known exclusively to them, and only they can use it to encrypt and decrypt messages, thus achieving highly secure communication.

News Crux Science & Technology

Gene ‘BBX11’ That Greens Plants


  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have identified a gene ‘BBX11’ that facilitates in the greening of plants by playing a crucial role in regulating the levels of protochlorophyllide — an intermediate in the biosynthesis of the green pigment chlorophyll.
  • When a seedling emerges from under the soil it must quickly synthesise chlorophyll to start supporting its own growth. In order to facilitate quick synthesis of chlorophyll, plants make a precursor of chlorophyll called ‘protochlorophyllide’ in the dark. As soon as the plant comes out into the light from under the soil, light-dependent enzymes convert protochlorophyllide to chlorophyll.
  • The scientists found a mechanism where two proteins oppositely regulate the ‘BBX11’ gene to maintain optimum levels of ‘BBX11’.
  • The amount of protochlorophyllide synthesised needed to be proportional to the number of enzymes available to convert them to chlorophyll. If there is excess of free protochlorophyllide, then exposure to light converts it into molecules that cause ‘photobleaching’.
  • Thus, it is very important to regulate the amount of protochlorophyllide synthesized by the plant and here comes the vital plant played by the ‘BBX11’ gene. If it is less, plants are unable to efficiently ‘green’ in order to harvest sunlight. If the amount of protochlorophyllide is more, then plants bleach under the light.

News Crux Economy

Initiatives Towards Controlling GST Frauds


  • Various measures have been taken by the GST Council Secretariat towards the rising menace of GST fake invoice frauds.
  • oMandatory Physical Verification:The government has introduced mandatory in-person physical verification of business premises for the purposes of obtaining GST registration.
  • oBiometric-Based Aadhaar Authentication: In case an applicant opts for Aadhaar authentication, he will undergo biometric-based Aadhaar authentication at one of the facilitation Centres notified by the Commissioner.
  • o‘Pay 1% in Cash’: Separately, a new rule has been introduced by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs that mandates businesses with monthly turnover of over Rs. 50 lakh to pay at least 1% of their GST liability in cash instead of using input tax credits to discharge their entire liability.
  • oChanges in Validity of e-Way Bills: The validity of e-way bills has also been tweaked, doubling the distance to be covered for each day of validity, effective January 1. Till now, an e-way bill for transporting goods under GST allowed transporters to cover 100 km in one day. Now, that distance for each day of validity has been increased to 200 km. While four days were granted in terms of e-way bill validity to cover 400 km, going forward, only two days will be granted for the same distance.

News Crux Economy

First ‘International Day Of Banks’


  • The United Nations (UN) celebrated the first ever International Day of Banks across the globe on 4th December 2020.
  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution on 19th December 2019.
  • The day is observed to recognise the important potential of multilateral development banks and other international development banks in financing sustainable development.
  • This reaffirms the importance of achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

Tribes/Ethnic Groups In News


Zomi Ethnic Group

Manipur's Zomi ethnic group has renewed its demand for the creation of Zoland Territorial Council (ZTC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, a self-administered zone on the lines of the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.

Zomi identify themselves as descendants of the Zo, the Tibeto-Burman people that speaks Chin-Kuki language group. They are scattered in Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam.

Malayali Tribes

  • Malayali is a tribal group from the Eastern Ghats in North Tamil Nadu.
  • With a population of around 3,58,000 people they are the largest Scheduled tribes in that region.
  • The tribals are usually hill farmers and they cultivate different types of millet.
  • Recently TRIFED under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has sourced Giant Rock Bee Honey, a unique variant of honey from these tribes and added to Tribes of India Collection.

Pateliya Tribes

  • The Pateliya is a scheduled tribe. They are found in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • The term 'Pateliya' has been derived from the term Patel which locally means 'headman'.
  • The Pateliya are mostly distributed in Dahod Mahisagar Panchmahal districts of Gujarat and Jhabua, Dhar, Indore, Dewas, Guna districts of Madhya Pradesh.
  • They speak Malvi among themselves and Hindi with others.
  • Traditional occupation of the Pateliya is agriculture.
  • Recently TRIFED under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has sourced micro-beaded jewelry (mainly neckpieces) from these tribes and added to Tribes of India Collection.

Vasava Tribes

  • The Vasava are a clan of the Bhil ethnic community found in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
  • They have scheduled tribe status. In Rajasthan, they are also known as Vasave.
  • The Vasava in Gujarat trace their mythological descent from Eklavya. They speak Bhili language, although most can now speak Gujarati.
  • Recently TRIFED under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has sourced organic varieties of dals and spices from these tribes and added to Tribes of India Collection.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

‘Mon Shugu’: Monpa Handmade Paper


The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has installed a Monpa handmade paper making unit in Tawang which not only aims at reviving the art but also engaging the local youths with this art professionally and earn.

  • The art of making Monpa handmade paper originated over 1000 years ago and was an integral part of local custom and culture in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. However, the handmade paper industry almost disappeared in the last 100 years due to cheap inferior Chinese paper.
  • The fine-textured handmade paper, which is called Mon Shugu in the local dialect, is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang.
  • The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries.
  • The Monpa handmade paper will be made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng, which has medicinal values too.
  • Monpas used to sell these papers to countries like Tibet, Bhutan, Thailand and Japan as no paper making industry existed in these countries at that time.

News Crux Sports

ICC Awards Of The Decade 2020


The winners of the prestigious ICC Awards of the Decade were announced on 28th December 2020. The ICC Awards of The Decade recognise the best players across Cricket over the past 10 years.

Major Awards & Awardees

  • Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade: MS Dhoni (India)

Men’s Awards

  • Sir Garfield Sobers Award for ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade: Virat Kohli (India)
  • Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade: Virat Kohli (India)
  • Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Decade: Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
  • Men’s Test Cricketer of the Decade: Steve Smith (Australia)

Women’s Award

  • Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for ICC Female Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry (Australia)
  • Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry(Australia)
  • Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry (Australia)

Indian Players in ICC Teams of Decade

  • R Ashwin found a place in ICC Men’s Test Team of the Decade where Virat Kohli was chosen captain of the team.
  • Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli found mention in ICC Men's ODI Team of the Decade where M.S. Dhoni was chosen wicket keeper and captain.
  • Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah found place in ICC Men’s T20I Team of the Decade where MS Dhoni was chosen captain and wicket keeper.
  • Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami found a place in ICC Women's ODI team of the Decade.
  • Harmanpreet Kaur, Poonam Yadav found place in ICC Women's T20I Team of the Decade.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

Exhibition ‘Raag-Bhopali’ For Promoting Zari-Zardozi Crafts


  • Madhya Pradesh Government is introducing campaign regarding promotion of “Ek Zila- Ek Shilp ''.
  • The State Government is focussing on local traditional art of each district in the state and making efforts to promote it.
  • The first of such kind of exhibition called ‘Raag-Bhopali’ is being organized to promote Zari-Zardozi crafts of Bhopal.
  • The richest embroidery of India is the Zari and the Zardozi, which is known since late 16th century. This art form was introduced in India by the Mughal invaders.
  • Zari zardozi is a form of embroidery, which came to India from Persia. Its literal translation, Zar means gold and dozi meaning embroidery. Zari zardozi embroidery undergoes the process of using metallic-bound threads to sew on the various products.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

Tso Kar Wetland Complex Becomes India’s 42nd Ramsar Site


  • India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, which is a second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh after Tsomoriri (A freshwater to brackish lake).
  • The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies, Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India.
  • It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.
  • The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway.

News Crux Obituary

Renowned Malayalam Poet-Activist Sugathakumari Passed Away


  • Noted poet and activist Sugathakumari who was at the forefront of environmental and feminist movements in Kerala has passed away.
  • She was the founder secretary of the ‘Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi’, an organisation for the protection of nature, and of ‘Abhaya’, a home for destitute women and a day-care centre for the mentally ill.
  • She held the post of chairperson of the Kerala State Women’s Commission.
  • She was at the forefront of ‘Save Silent Valley’ agitation which had garnered national attention in the 90s.
  • Sugathakumari won numerous awards and recognitions including Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award (1968), Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award (1978).
  • In 2006, she was honoured with Padma Shri, the country's fourth-highest civilian honour.
  • For her contribution to conservation of nature, she was awarded the first Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra by the Centre.
  • She won the Saraswati Samman for her work ‘Manalezhuthu’ in 2012.

PIB News National

Electricity (Rights Of Consumers) Rules, 2020


  • On 21st December 2020, the Union Ministry of Power has for the first time promulgated rules laying down the rights of power consumers in the country.
  • Distribution companies across the country are monopolies – whether government or private – and the consumer had no alternative – therefore this step will prove a milestone towards the consumers’ rights.
  • These rules are also an important step towards furthering the ease of doing business across the country.
  • Implementation of these Rules shall ensure that new electricity connections, refunds and other services are given in a time bound manner.
  • Willful disregard to consumer rights will result in levying penalties on service providers.

Other Major Provisions

Rights and Obligations

  • It is the duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by an owner or occupier of any premises in line with the provisions of Act.
  • It is the right of consumer to have minimum standards of service for supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.

Release of New Connection and Modification in Existing Connection

  • Maximum time period of 7 days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas identified to provide new connection and modify an existing connection

Reliability of Supply

  • The distribution licensee shall supply 24x7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.
  • The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.

Consumer as Prosumer

  • While the prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer, they will also have right to set up Renewable Energy (RE) generation unit including roof top solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by himself or through a service provider.
  • Net metering for loads up to ten kW and for gross metering for loads above ten kW.

Standards of Performance

  • The Commission shall notify the standards of performance for the distribution licensees.
  • Compensation amount to be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance

Compensation Mechanism

  • Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely.

Call Centre for Consumer Services

  • Distribution licensee shall establish a centralised 24x7 toll-free call centre.
  • Licensees shall endeavour to provide all services through a common Customer Relation Manager (CRM) System to get a unified view.

Grievance Redressal Mechanism

  • Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) to include consumer and prosumer representatives.
  • The consumer grievance redressal has been made easy by making it multi-layered and the number of consumers representatives have been increased from one to four.
  • The licensee shall specify the time within which various types of grievances by the different levels of the forums are to be resolved. Maximum timeline of 45 days specified for grievance redressal.

General Provisions

  • Use of online access to various services such as application submission, monitoring status of application, payment of bills, status of complaints raised ,etc., to consumers through its website, web portal, mobile app and its various designated offices area-wise.
  • The distribution licensee shall provide all services such as application submission, payment of bills, etc., to senior citizens at their door-steps.
  • The details of scheduled power outages shall be informed to the consumers. In case of unplanned outage or fault, immediate intimation shall be given to the consumers through SMS or by any other electronic mode along with estimated time for restoration.

News Crux National

Gas Production Started From R-Cluster - Asia’s Deepest Project


  • Reliance Industries Ltd. and its partner BP(British Petroleum)of the U.K. have started the natural gas production from ultra-deepwater R-Cluster - Asia's deepest project.
  • R-Cluster is the first of the three deep-sea projects other than ‘Satellites Cluster’ and ‘MJ’, Reliance-BP are developing in the eastern offshore KG D6 block.
  • Together these projects are expected to meet about 15% of India's gas demand by 2023.
  • Reliance is the operator of KG D6 with a 66.67% participating interest and bp holds a 33.33% stake.
  • Located at a water depth of greater than 2,000 metres, it is the deepest offshore gas field in Asia.
  • The next project, the Satellites Cluster, is expected to come on-stream in 2021, followed by the MJ project in 2022.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

Four Indian Sites Won UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards For Cultural Heritage Conservation


  • India won UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation towards its four sites.

Award Category & Sites

  • Award of Excellence/Special Recognition for Sustainable Development: Sunder Nursery, the sprawling park set amid historical structures at Nizamuddin, has become Delhi’s first heritage complex to receive two Unesco Asia-Pacific awards for Cultural Heritage Conversation, bagging the Award of Excellence and the newly announced Special Recognition for Sustainable Development.
  • Award of Distinction: Koothambalam at Guruvayoor Temple in Thrissur. Koothambalam or Kuttampalam meaning temple theatre is a closed hall for staging Koothu, Nangiarkoothu and Koodiyattam, the ancient ritualistic art forms of Kerala.
  • Award of Merit: Amar Singh College, Srinagar; and Malabari Hall Building, Mumbai(A multipurpose hall that formed part of the SevaSadan Society - one of the earliest of such spaces that catered to the emerging middle-class community, where women began to be recognised for their contribution towards the society).

Since 2000, the Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation Programme have been lauding the efforts of private individuals and organisations in successfully restoring, conserving and transforming structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

6th Indo-Japan SAMVAD Conference


  • The sixth edition of the India-Japan SAMVAD conference was held on December 21, 2020, virtually.
  • The Prime Minister of India proposed to create a library of traditional Buddhist literature and scriptures in India. The library will collect digital copies of all such Buddhist literature from different countries.It will aim to translate the literature and make them freely available for all monks and scholars of Buddhism.
  • The library's research mandate will include examining how Buddha's message can guide our modern world against contemporary challenges such as poverty, racism, extremism, gender discrimination, climate change and many others.
  • The purpose of Samvad Conference is to encourage dialogue and debate on the need to build the future of Asia; to highlight our shared values of democracy, humanism, Ahimsa, freedom and tolerance in Asia; and to carry forward our ancient tradition of spiritual and scholarly exchanges.

News Crux Summit/Seminar

20th IORA Council Of Ministers (COM) Meeting


  • The 20th Meeting of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM) hosted virtually by UAE, IORA Chair on 17th December 2020.
  • The meeting saw the participation from all 22 Member States and 10 Dialogue Partners.
  • The meeting deliberated upon various regional and global issues of common interest by IORA Member States.
  • India as a founding member of IORA has been committed to its growth since its inception in 1997.
  • Sri Lanka will be theVice Chair of IORA for the period 2021-23;
  • At the Meet, the French Republic was added as the IORA’s 23rd Member State, on the basis of Réunion Island.

About Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)

  • The IORA is an inter-governmental organisation which was established on March 7, 1997 and its Headquarter is at Ebene, Mauritius.
  • IORA’s apex body is the Council of Foreign Ministers (COM) which meets annually, with the aim of promoting regional cooperation, prosperity, and growth in the Indian Ocean region.
  • It comprise of 22 Member states and 10 Dialogue partners.
  • The 22 member states are: Australia, Iran, Bangladesh, the Comoros, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

India’s Leopard Population Rises Over 60% Since 2014


  • ‘Status of Leopard in India 2018’ – a recent release by the Union Environment Ministry shows that India’s leopard population has increased to 12,852 (more than 60% increase in population) over the previous estimate (about 8000) which was conducted in 2014.
  • The Indian leopard is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.

States with Higher Leopard Population

  • Largest numbers of Leopards were found in Madhya Pradesh at 3,421, followed by Karnataka at 1,783 and Maharashtra at 1,690.

Regional Distribution

  • Central India/Eastern Ghats: The highest number of 8,071 leopards were found in central India and the Eastern Ghats, which include the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Western Ghats: In the Western Ghats region, comprising of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala, there are 3,387 leopards.
  • Shivalik and Gangetic Plains: There are 1,253 leopards in Shivalik and Gangetic Plains which includes Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar.
  • North East Hills:In the North East hills, 141 leopards were found.

News Crux Awards

USA’s ‘Legion Of Merit’ Award For Three ‘QUAD’ Leaders


  • US President Donald Trump has mainstreamed the QUAD by awarding its original architects Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with the prestigious Legion of Merit.
    • Narendra Modi: US President Donald Trump presented the prestigious ‘Legion of Merit’award to Prime Minister NarendraModi for his leadership in elevating strategic partnership of the two countries and emergence of India as a global power. India's Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, accepted the award on behalf of the prime minister from the US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien at the White House.
    • Scott Morrison: The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also presented the ‘Legion of Merit’ award for his leadership in addressing global challenges and promoting collective security.
    • Shinzo Abe: Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was awarded for his leadership and vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • The Legion of Merit, in the highest degree of the Chief Commander, is a prestigious award conferred by the President of the United States, typically upon Heads of State or Heads of Government of other countries.

State Honours to Narendra Modi

  • 2016: Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud (Saudi Arabia) - Member Special Class, the highest honour of Saudi Arabia awarded to non-Muslim dignitaries.
  • 2016: State Order of Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan (Afghanistan) - The highest civilian honour of Afghanistan.
  • 2018: Grand Collar of the State of Palestine (Palestine) - The highest civilian honour of Palestine.
  • 2019: Order of Zayed (United Arab Emirates) - The highest civilian honour of the United Arab Emirates.
  • 2019: Order of St. Andrew (Russia) - The highest civilian honour of Russia.
  • 2019: Order of the Distinguished Rule of Izzuddin(Maldives) - The highest honour of the Maldives awarded to foreign dignitaries.
  • 2019: King Hamad Order of the Renaissance (Bahrain) - Member First Class, the highest civilian honour of Bahrain.
  • 2020: Legion of Merit (United States) - Highest degree of Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit.

News Crux National

ONGC Begins Production In Bengal Basin


  • Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Limited has begun crude oil production from the Asokenagar-1 well, Bengal Basin in 24 Paragana district.
  • This has made the Bengal basin India’s eighth producing basin.
  • Other producing basins of India are Krishna-Godavari (KG), Mumbai Offshore, Assam Shelf, Rajasthan, Cauvery, Assam-Arakan Fold Belt and Cambay.
  • “The Asokenagar-1 well was completed as an oil producer under Early-Monetization Plan issued by the Government of India. This makes ONGC having discovered and put to production seven out of the eight producing basins of India covering 83 percent of established oil and gas reserves.”
  • According to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, there are 26 sedimentary basins in India, covering a total area of 3.4 million square kilometer. Of these, 16 are on-land basins, 7 located both on-land and offshore and 3 completely offshore.

News Crux Sports

Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta And Mallakhambato Be Part Of KIYG 2021


  • The Sports Ministry has approved the inclusion of four Indigenous Games to be a part of Khelo India Youth Games 2021, scheduled to take place in Haryana.
  • The games include: Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba.
  • Earlier, Yogasanawas also given a competitive sports status which will also be a part of Khelo India Games 2021.

The four selected games represent different parts of the country:

  • Kalaripayattu: It has its origin from Kerala and has practitioners all over the world; Bollywood actor VidyutJammwal being one.
  • Mallakhamba: It well-known across India and Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have been the hotspots of this sport.
  • Gatka:Originates from the State of Punjab and this traditional fighting style of the Nihang Sikh Warriors is used both as self-defense as well as a sport.
  • Thang-Ta:It is a marital art form of Manipur.

News Crux Sports

Cologne Boxing World Cup: India Wins Nine Medals


  • Indian boxers finished the Cologne World Cup in Germany with nine medals: three gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
  • Gold:AmitPanghal (men's 52kg), SimranjitKaur (women's 60kg) and ManishaMoun (women's 57kg).
  • Silver:SakshiChoudhary(women’s 57kg), Satish Kumar (men’s +91kg)
  • Silver: Sonia Lather (women's 57kg), Pooja Rani (women's 75kg) GauravSolanki (men's 57kg) and Mohamed Hussamudin (men's 57kg)

News Crux Science & Technology

GPS-Based Technology To Make Indian Roads Free Of Toll Booths


  • Road Transport and Highways Ministry has finalised GPS-based technology for toll collection with the help of Russia to ensure seamless movement of vehicles across the country which will ensure India becomes 'toll booth free' in the next two years.
  • All vehicles will have a GPS device that will be linked directly to the bank account of the vehicle owner. The toll amount will be deducted based on the movement of the vehicle.
  • While now all commercial vehicles are coming with vehicle tracking systems, the Government will come up with some plan to install GPS technology in old vehicles.
  • Presently the country is gearing up for the mandatory use of FASTags on all vehicles from January 1, 2021. FASTags essentially eliminate the need to stop at toll booths and physically pay, thus helping ease congestion at toll booths across the country.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

Red-List Assessment Of Grasshopper Species In Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve


  • A specialist group of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) would conduct a first of its kind Red-List assessment of grasshopper species in Nilgiri biosphere reserve in South India followed by other parts of the country.
  • The assessment, to be done by IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC), Grasshoppers Specialist Group, would study the ecosystem by taking grasshoppers as its indicators, and also steps for their conservation.
  • The project is funded by United Arab Emirates-based Mohammad Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, which works for the conservation of different species across the world.
  • This assessment will include 30 endemic species of the NBR along with the new species of grasshopper ‘Tettilobus trishula’ or ‘Shiva’s pygmy trishula’ discovered in the Eravikulam National Park, Kerala.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

Ministry Of Road Transport And Highways’ Proposal On ‘E20’ Fuel


  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has published a draft notification and invited comments from the public for adoption of the E20 fuel.
  • The adoption of E20 fuel means a blend of 20% of ethanol and gasoline as an automobile fuel in order to reduce vehicular emissions as well as the country’s oil import bill.
  • The current permissible level of blending is 10% of ethanol though India reached only 5.6% of blending in 2019.
  • The proposal facilitates the development of E20-compliant vehicles.
  • It will help in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, etc.

Vehicle Compatibility

  • The compatibility of vehicles with the percentage of ethanol in the blend would be defined by the vehicle manufacturer, which would have to be displayed on the vehicle with a sticker.

News Crux Awards

Vidyut Mohan From India Wins 'Young Champions Of The Earth' Award


  • A an Indian entrepreneur is among the seven winners of the prestigious "Young Champions of the Earth" 2020 prize given by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to global change-makers using innovative ideas and ambitious action to help solve some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges.
  • Vidyut Mohan, an engineer, is the co-founder of "Takachar", a social enterprise enabling farmers to prevent open burning of their waste farm residues and earn extra income by converting them into value-added chemicals like activated carbon on-site.

About Takachar

  • Takachar buys rice husks, straw and coconut shells from farmers and turns them into charcoal, saving the debris from the fires, which are also a driver of climate change.

About the Award

  • The Young Champions of the Earth prize is awarded every year by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to seven entrepreneurs under the age of 30 with bold ideas for sustainable environmental change.

PIB News National

Three DRDO Products Handed Over To Three Services


Defence Minister Rajnath Singh handed over three systems developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation to chiefs of the three armed forces.

I. Border Surveillance System (BOSS) (Army)

  • It is an all-weather electronic surveillance system successfully designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun. The system has been deployed at Ladakh border area for day and night surveillance.
  • The system facilitates monitoring and surveillance by automatically detecting the intrusions in harsh high-altitude sub-zero temperature areas with remote operation capability.
  • The system is being produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Machlipatnam.

II. Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) (Navy)

  • The IMSAS is state-of-the-art, fully indigenous, high performance intelligent software system that provides Global Maritime Situational Picture, Marine planning tools and Analytical capabilities to Indian Navy.
  • The system provides Maritime Operational Picture from Naval HQ to each individual ship in sea to enable Naval Command and Control (C2). Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and Indian Navy has jointly conceptualised and developed the product and the BEL, Bengaluru has implemented it.

III. ASTRA Mk-I BVR Missile System (Air Force)

  • It is the indigenously developed first Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, which can be launched from Sukhoi-30, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Mig-29 and Mig-29K.
  • Globally, very few countries have expertise and capabilities to design and produce this class of weapon system.
  • Successful development of ASTRA weapon system by Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) Hyderabad & production by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Hyderabad is a major contribution towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

News Crux Study/Survey/Report

Human Development Index: India Ranks 131


  • India has slipped one rank to 131 among 189 countries in the Human Development Index for 2019 compared to 130 the previous year, according to United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2020 released on 16th December 2020.
  • The absolute value of the index has gone up for India to 0.645 in 2019 (the year under consideration) compared to 0.642 the year before, reflecting overall better performance.
  • In all four HDI indicators, India’s performance has either improved in 2019 compared to 2018 or remained the same:
    • Life Expectancy at Birth (SDG3): Improved to 69.7 years compared to 69.4 years the year before.
    • Gross National Income (GNI) Per Capita (SDG 8.5): $6,681 in 2019 was higher than $6,427 in 2018.
    • Expected Years of Schooling (SDG 4.3): Remained same as previous year at 12.2
    • Mean Year of Schooling (SDG4.4): Remained same as previous year at 6.5

New Experimental Elements: Planetary Pressure Adjusted HDI

  • For the first time, the United Nations Development Programme introduced a new metric to reflect the impact caused by each country’s per-capita carbon emissions and its material footprint, which measures the amount of fossil fuels, metals and other resources used to make the goods and services it consumes.
  • In Planetary Pressure Adjusted HDI India’s ranking improves by eight positions. India’s performance is much better in these compared to most countries higher up on the HDI.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

Tomb Of Abdur Rahim Khan- I- Khana Restored


  • The tomb of poet Abdur Rahim Khan- I- Khana, popularly known as 'Rahim'- one of Akbar's 'Navratnas' and a military leader has been restored by Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and InterGlobe Foundation.
  • The tomb stands within an ensemble of 16th century medieval monuments in the Nizamuddin area of the national capital.
  • The tomb was originally built by Rahim for his wife, making it the first ever Mughal tomb to be built for a woman, with the more celebrated Taj Mahal having been built later.
  • Abdul Rahim was the son of Bairam Khan, Akbar's trusted guardian and mentor, who was of Turkic ancestry.
  • Apart from writing various dohas, Rahim translated Babar's memoirs, Baburnama from Chagatai language to Persian language. In Sanskrit, he wrote two books on astrology -‘Khetakautukam’ and ‘Dwatrinsha Yogavali’.

News Crux National

National Security Directive On Telecommunication Sector


  • To tighten security of communications network, the Cabinet Committee on Security on 16th December 2020 announced the National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector.
  • The directive has been framed from the perspective of national security, which will mandate service providers to purchase equipment from trusted sources.

Major Provisions

  • The government will declare a list of trusted sources and trusted products for installation in the country's telecom network.
  • The methodology to designate trusted products will be devised by the designated authority, the National Cyber Security Coordinator.
  • Telecom service providers are required to connect new devices that are designated as ‘trusted products’.

National Security Committee on Telecom

  • A committee - National Security Committee on Telecom will decide list of trusted source and product headed by the deputy national security advisor.
  • The committee will consist of members from relevant departments, ministries and will also have two members from the industry and independent experts.
  • The government will also create a list of designated sources from whom no procurement can be done.

The Directive on Existing Structures/ Equipments

  • The present directive does not envisage mandatory replacement of the existing equipment already inducted in the network of TSPs.
  • It will also not affect annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect of the directive.

For Domestic Players

  • The directive has provisions to qualify telecom gears made by domestic players in the trusted category.
  • Those that meet the criteria of the Department of Telecommunications' preferential market access (PMA) scheme will be certified as India trusted sources.
  • The National Security Committee on Telecom will take measures to increase use of equipment from such Indian trusted sources.
  • The PMA scheme gives weightage to telecom gears developed and manufactured by indigenous companies.

News Crux International

US Imposes CAATSA Sanctions On Turkey: India Apprehensive


  • On 14th December 2020, the United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey over its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems.
  • With India set to get the consignment of the S-400 air defence system early next year, New Delhi is watching Washington’s moves closely.
  • While it has got a waiver from the outgoing Trump administration, Delhi hopes that the incoming Biden administration would not work towards reversing the decision.

S-400 Air Defence Missile System

  • The S-400 Triumf, (NATO calls it SA-21 Growler), is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
  • It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

CAATSA

  • Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), enacted on August 2, 2017, to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.
  • Title II of the Act primarily deals with sanctions on Russian interests such as its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions.
  • Section 231 of the Act empowers the US President to impose at least five of the 12 listed sanctions — enumerated in Section 235 of the Act — on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with Russian defence and intelligence sectors.

Why it is a concern for India?

  • Most of India’s weapons are of Soviet/Russian origin – nuclear submarine INS Chakra, the Kilo-class conventional submarine, the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile, the MiG 21/27/29 and Su-30 MKI fighters, IL-76/78 transport planes, T-72 and T-90 tanks, Mi-series of helicopters, and Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, etc.
  • So, if India is sanctioned under such law, it may hinder sourcing spares, maintenance of all such defence machinery/equipment.

Why US Exempted/may exempt India Further

  • US’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: The US is projecting India as a key partner in its Indo-Pacific strategy, with the US National Security Strategy 2017 explicitly supporting New Delhi’s vital role in this regard.
  • Arms Trade: The US sees this as a strategic opportunity to trade in arms with India. In addition, US defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are also strong contenders for a number of high-profile arms deals, including the recently floated tender notices for 110 fighter planes for the Indian Air Force, 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters for the Indian Navy, and 234 naval utility and multi-role helicopters.
  • Quad: The concept of four nation alliance - USA, Australia, Japan and India - to contain China’sunilateral claim on the Nine-Dash Line in the South China Sea; rapid warship building its first overseas base in Djibouti; and its surface and subsurface activities in Indian Ocean beyond the Malacca Straits.

India’s Recent Arms Deals with US

  • In recent years, the US has bagged more than $15 billion in arms deals including for the C-17 Globemaster and C-130J transport planes, P-8 (I) maritime reconnaissance aircraft, M777 light-weight howitzer, Harpoon missiles, and Apache and Chinook helicopters.
  • The US is also likely to accept an Indian request for Sea Guardian drones.

News Crux National

Vijay Diwas: 50th Anniversary Celebrations Of Indo-Pak War


  • From 16 December (Vijay Diwas), India is celebrating 50 Years of Indo-Pak War, also called ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’.
  • In December 1971, the Indian Armed Forces secured a decisive and historic victory over Pakistan Army, which led to creation of a Nation - Bangladesh and also resulted in the largest military surrender after the World War – II.
  • Inaugural event was held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi.
  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi lit up the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ from the eternal flame of NWM on the occasion.
  • Four Victory Mashaals (flames) were lit from the Eternal Flame of NWM. These Mashaals will be carried to various parts of the country including to villages of Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra Awardees of 1971 War.
  • Soil from the villages of these Awardees and from areas where major battles were fought in 1971 are being brought to the NWM.
  • Various commemorative events will be conducted pan-India wherein war Veterans and Veer Naris will be felicitated and events like band displays, seminars, exhibitions, equipment displays, film festivals, conclave and adventure activities are planned.

News Crux States In News

‘Matru Sahyogini Samiti’: MP Initiative To Check Malnutrition


  • The Madhya Pradesh government has issued an order for the appointment of committees called ‘Matru Sahyogini Samiti’ or Mothers’ Cooperation Committees, led by mothers to ensure better monitoring of services delivered at anganwadi or day care centres across the State.
  • These Committees will comprise 10 mothers at each anganwadi representing the concerns of different sets of beneficiaries under the Integrated Child Development Services, or National Nutrition Mission — children between six months to three years, children between three years and six years, adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • These mothers will keep a watch on weekly ration distribution to beneficiaries as well as suggest nutritious and tasteful recipes for meals served to children at the centres, in a move that is aimed at strengthening community response to the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the State.
  • The committees will include mothers of beneficiary children as well as be represented by pregnant women and lactating mothers who are enrolled under the scheme.
  • The Committees will also include a woman panch, women active in the community and eager to volunteer their support to the scheme, teachers from the local school, and women heads of self-help groups (SHG).

News Crux Awards

'UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has decided to launch the 'UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize'.

  • The prize will be launched in the field of ‘creative economy’ starting from November 2021.
  • The decision came as Bangladesh is celebrating Rahman’s birth centenary, and also preparing for the country’s 50th independence anniversary.
  • Starting November 2021, the dollar 50 thousand award will be given away once in two years for global economic initiatives of the youth.
  • UNESCO has declared 2021 as ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development’.

About Mujibur Rahman

  • Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the founding father and the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1972-75).
  • He was given the title of “Bangabandhu” (Friend of Bengal) by the people of Bangladesh.
  • His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

News Crux Defence

‘Himgiri’: 1st Ship Of Project 17A By GSRE Kolkata Launched


Himgiri, which is the first of the three Project 17A ships being built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), Kolkata has been launched at Hoogly River.

Project 17A

  • Under the Project 17A program, a total of seven ships, four at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and three ships at GRSE are being built with enhanced stealth features, advanced indigenous weapon and sensor fit along with several other improvements.
  • P17A ships are the first gas turbine propulsion and largest combat platforms ever built at GRSE.

News Crux Ranking/Report/Survey/Index

National Family Health Survey-5


  • The first set of findings from the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS), conducted in 2019-20, was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on December 12, four years after the last survey (NFHS-4, 2015-16).
  • The results of 17 States and 5 UTs (Assam, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal, Mizoram, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu) were released as Phase-I.

Major Findings

Population is Stabilising

  • India’s population is stabilising, as the total fertility rate (TFR) has decreased across majority of the states.
  • Of 17 states analysed in the fifth round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS), except for Bihar, Manipur and Meghalaya, all other states have a TFR of 2.1 or less, which implies that most states have attained replacement level fertility.
  • Sikkim recorded the lowest TFR, with one woman bearing 1.1 children on average; Bihar recorded the highest TFR of three children per woman.
  • In 19 of the 22 surveyed states, TFRs were found to be ‘below-replacement’ — a woman bore less than two children on average through her reproductive life.

Family Planning

  • All 17 states have witnessed an increase in the use of modern contraceptives of family planning. The proportion of women with unmet need for family planning, who want to stop or delay child-bearing but are not using any method of contraception, has declined in all states, except Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Except for Manipur, all states have reported an increase in users getting information on side effects of current contraceptive methods.

Contraception

  • Female sterilisation continues to dominate as the modern method of contraception.
  • Male engagement in family planning continues to be limited and disappointing as seen by the low uptake of condoms and male sterilisation across states.

Anaemia

  • Anaemia among women remains a major cause of concern. In all the states, anaemia is much higher among women compared to men.

Child Marriages

  • Despite the efforts being made, it is alarming to see the increase in child marriages in a number of states, reveals the data.
  • There has been an increase in child marriages in Tripura (40.1 per cent from 33.1 per cent in 2015-16), Manipur (16.3 per cent from 13.7 per cent in 2015-16) and Assam (31.8 per cent from 30.8 per cent in 2015-16), while states like West Bengal (41.6 per cent) and Bihar (40.8 per cent) still have high prevalence of child marriages.

Teenage Pregnancies

  • States such as Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland have also shown increase in teenage pregnancies.
  • Along with increase in child marriages, Tripura has also shown an increase in teenage pregnancies, from 18.8 per cent in 2015-16 to 21.9 per cent in 2019-20.

Nutritional Status of Children

  • NFHS-5 data also showed a decline in nutritional status of children under five years in a number of states.
  • Child Stunting: The proportion of stunted children has risen in several of the 17 states and five UTs surveyed, putting India at risk of reversing previous gains in child nutrition made over previous decades. Worryingly, that includes richer states like Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Child Wasting: The share of underweight and wasted children has also gone up in the majority of the states. Telangana, Kerala, Bihar, Assam and Jammu-Kashmir witnessed an increase and Maharashtra and West Bengal have been stagnant.

Under 5 and Infant Mortality Rate

  • The Under 5 and infant mortality rate (IMR) has come down in 18 states and union territories but in parallel 16 states recorded an increase in underweight and severely wasted under 5 children among 22 states.

Out of Pocket Expenditure

  • There is increase in average out of pocket expenditure (OOPE) per delivery in public health facilities in some states. Compared to NFHS-4, OOPE has increased in several states - Sikkim (109%), Mizoram (63%), Bihar (60%), Assam (42%) and Manipur (40%).

Spousal Violence

  • While spousal violence has generally declined in most of the states and UTs, it has witnessed an increase in five states, namely Sikkim, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka.
  • Karnataka witnessed the largest increase in spousal violence, from 20.6 per cent in NFHS 4 to 44.4 per cent in NFHS-5.

Sexual Violence

  • Sexual violence has increased in five states (Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and West Bengal), as per the data.

Disparity in Access to the Internet

  • NFHS-5 depicts a stark disparity in access to the internet by men, in contrast to women in a number of states.
  • In Karnataka and Bihar, for example, twice as many men have access to the internet as compared to women.
  • Sikkim is the only state where access to internet among men (78.2%) and women (76.7%) is almost equal.

Clean Fuel for Cooking

  • Less than 45% of households use clean fuel for cooking in five states, including Bihar and West Bengal.
  • The five states where less than 45% households use clean fuel for cooking are Assam (42.1%), Bihar (37.8%), Meghalaya (33.7%), Nagaland (43%) and West Bengal (40.2.
  • Over 80% of households use clean fuels in Andhra Pradesh (83.6%), Goa (96.5%), Mizoram (83.8%) and Telangana (91.8 %). Electricity, LPG or natural gas and biogas are considered as clean fuel in the survey.
  • The survey also showed that the use of clean fuel increased in all the 22 surveyed states and UTs in comparison to NFHS-4 (2015-16).

Sanitary Facility

  • Over 70% of the population in 16 states is living in households that use an improved sanitation facility.
  • Lakshadweep (99.8%) and Kerala (98.7%) have the highest percentage of population living in households with an improved sanitation facility, while Bihar (49.4%) and Ladakh (42.3%) have the lowest.

Water & Electricity

  • Over 90% of the population was living in households with electricity, and more than 70% with improved drinking water sources.

Vaccination

  • The survey found considerable improvement in vaccination coverage among children age 12-23 months across all states and UTs.

Women Empowerment

  • Women’s empowerment indicators (including women with bank account) also portray considerable progress.

News Crux Awards

HelpAge India: 1st Indian NGO To Receive UN Population Award


For the first time, an Indian institution ‘HelpAge India’ won the prestigious ‘2020 UN Population Award’ in its ‘institutional category’for its contribution towards serving disadvantaged elderly people and raising awareness on their cause.

  • Bhutan's Queen Mother Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck was given the 2020 United Nations Population Award in the individual category for her work on sexual health and gender violence.
  • The last time the Award came to an Indian was in 1992, when it was awarded to Mr. J.R.D. Tata as an individual laureate.

About the Award

  • The UN Population Award, established by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1981, recognises contributions in the fields of population and reproductive health. It is an annual award given to an individual and/or institution for outstanding contributions to population and reproductive health.
  • The much-coveted award consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a monetary prize.

About HelpAge India

  • HelpAge India was formed in 1978 with the founder of HelpAge International (UK), Cecil Jackson Cole as its first President.
  • HelpAge India has been working for the cause and care of disadvantaged older persons to improve their quality of life for over four decades.
  • Padma Shri awardee KiranKarnik is the Chairman of the Governing Body of HelpAge India.

News Crux Awards

Ramanujan Prize For Young Mathematicians 2020


  • The Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians 2020 was awarded to Dr. Carolina Araujo, Mathematician from the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for her outstanding work in algebraic geometry.
  • Her work area focuses on birational geometry, which aims to classify and describe the structure of algebraic varieties.
  • Dr. Araujo, who is Vice President of the Committee for Women in Mathematics at the International Mathematical Union, is the first non-Indian to receive this.

About the Award

  • The Prize, given every year to young mathematicians less than 45 years of age who have conducted outstanding research in a developing country, has been instituted by DST in the memory of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a genius in pure mathematics who was essentially self-taught and made spectacular contributions to elliptic functions, continued fractions, infinite series, and analytical theory of numbers.
  • The prize is awarded to a researcher from a developing country funded by the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India in collaboration with ICTP (International Centre for Theoretical Physics), and the International Mathematical Union.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

‘Anubhava Mantapa’: First Parliament Of The World


Context: Recently, while laying foundation for the new Parliament Building in Delhi, the Prime Minister in his speech, said that the Parliament system had come into existence in 12th century itself with Bhagwan Basavanna establishing the Anubhava Mantapam.

About Anubhava Mantapa

  • Anubhava Mantapa whose literal meaning is "experience center" was an academy of mystics, saints and philosophers of the ‘Veerashaiva’ faith in the 12th century.
  • It was the fountainhead of all religious and philosophical thought pertaining to the Human Values, Ethics.
  • It was presided over by the mystic AllamaPrabhu and numerous Sharanas from all over Karnataka and other parts of India were participants.
  • Prabhudeva, a great Yogi of extraordinary achievement, was the president and Lord Basava acted as the prime minister. Chennabasava can be compared to the speaker while at the same time working as the editor, and compiler of Vachana literature.
  • The only difference between the present day parliament and AnubhavaMantapa is that the members were not elected by the people, but were picked up or nominated by the higher authorities of the Mantapa; the necessary qualification expected being spiritual attainment.
  • The problems tackled were of a various nature covering social, religious, spiritual, yogic psychological, economic and literary spheres.
  • Members of the Mantapa and followers of the religion were given full freedom of thought, speech and action. They were allowed to put any questions or doubts to get them cleared in front of the congregation and a systematic program was launched to record and to preserve the dialogues that were going on in the House.
  • Anubhava Mantapa criticized sharply the meaningless differentiation of human beings as high or low either on their birth or on their occupation.

News Crux International

Israel And Morocco To Normalise Relations


  • Israel and Morocco agreed on 10th December 2020 to normalise relations in a deal brokered by the United States.
  • Morocco is the fourth Arab country since August 2020 to strike a deal aimed at normalising relations with Israel after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.
  • The disputed territory of Western Sahara was central to a deal establishing diplomatic ties between Morocco and Israel.
  • As part of the agreement, the United States agreed to recognise Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, where there has been a decades-old territorial dispute with Morocco pitted against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, a breakaway movement that seeks to establish an independent state (Sahrawi) in the territory.

Some Background on the Region

Western Sahara

  • Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwest coast and in the Maghreb region of North and West Africa. Western Sahara stretches along Africa’s Atlantic coast south of the Moroccan resort city of Agadir, and borders Algeria and Mauritania.
  • About 20% of the territory is controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, while the remaining 80% of the territory is occupied and administered by neighboring Morocco.
  • The area was colonized by Spain in the 19th century and Morocco annexed it in 1975. The pro-independence Polisario Front, representing the local Sahrawi population and backed by Algeria, fought Moroccan forces for years for control of the territory.
  • Some countries recognize Western Sahara as independent, some others support Morocco’s claims on the land, while others back a long-running UN effort to seek a negotiated solution.

Peace Efforts

  • The territory is home to one of the UN’s longest-running peace-keeping forces, in place since 1991 to monitor a cease-fire and help prepare for a referendum on the territory’s future — which has never taken place.
  • Morocco has proposed wide-ranging autonomy for Western Sahara, but the Polisario Front says the local population has the right to a referendum.

PIB News National Ecology & Environment

Role Of Aerosols Behind High Precipitation Over The Himalayan Region


  • Scientists have found that aerosols like black carbon and dust, which makes the Indo-Gangetic Plain one of the most polluted regions of the world, have led to increased incidents of high rainfall events in the foothills of the Himalayan Region.
  • The Indo-Gangetic Plain is located south and upwind of the Himalayan foothills. The region is associated with high aerosol loading, much of which is black carbon and dust, and thus provides an opportunity for studying how aerosol affects extreme rainfall events, particularly when air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain technically called orographic forcing.
  • Scientists highlighted the crucial role of the aerosol direct radiative effect on high precipitation events over the Himalayan region.
  • They showed that particulate emissions can alter the physical and dynamical properties of cloud systems and, in turn, amplify rainfall events over orographic regions downwind of highly polluted urban areas.
  • Thy found clear associations between high precipitation events, high aerosol loading, and high moist static energy (MSE) values (Moist static energy of an air mass includes the potential energy due to its height above the ground and the latent heat due to its moisture content). The findings also highlight the crucial role of the radiative effect of aerosol on high precipitation events over the Himalayan region.
  • The results of the study indicate that aerosols can play a vital role in exciting high precipitation (HP) events over the Himalayas during the monsoon season. Thus, aerosols, including chemistry, are essential to consider when forecasting HP events over the Himalayan region in regional modelling studies.

News Crux Science & Technology

Quantum Communication Between Two DRDO Labs


The Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has undergone trials between two laboratories in Hyderabad where the quantum technology- based security was validated for a range of 12 km over a fibre optic channel.

  • The technology has been developed by two DRDO facilities, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru, and DRDO Young Scientists’ Laboratory – Quantum Technology (DYSL-QT), Mumbai.

What is QKD?

  • QKD is primarily a mechanism to undertake secure communication which utilises a cryptographic protocol involving various components of quantum mechanics.
  • The technology enables two communicating sides to come up with random secret keys shared by both of them and known exclusively to them, so only they can use it to encrypt and decrypt messages, thus achieving highly-secure communication.

Application

  • The work being done on QKD technology at DRDO will be used to enable start-ups and small and medium enterprises in the domain of quantum information technologies.
  • The technology is expected to help define standards and formulate crypto technology related policies that can use the QKD system in a unified Cipher Policy Committee (CPC) framework in the country for more secure ‘key management’ for current and future military cryptographic systems.

Why we need Secure Communication?

  • Secure communications are vital for defence and strategic agencies world over and distribution of encryption keys from time to time is an important requirement in this context. Sharing of keys over the air or wired links requires encryption, which in turn requires encryption keys to be pre-shared. Quantum-based communication offers a robust solution to sharing the keys securely.

PIB News National

PM-WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface) Scheme


The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of DoT for setting up of Public Wi-Fi Networks by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) to provide public Wi-Fi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spread across length and breadth of the country to accelerate proliferation of Broadband Internet services through Public Wi-Fi network in the country.

  • There shall be no license fee for providing Broadband Internet through these public Wi-Fi networks.
  • The proposal will promote the growth of Public Wi-Fi Networks in the country and, in turn, will help in proliferation of Broadband Internet, enhancement of income and employment and empowerment of people.

Objectives

  • While no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs and App Providers will get themselves registered with DoT through online registration portal of DoT, without paying any registration fee.Registration shall be granted within 7 days of the application.
  • This is expected to be more business friendly and in line with efforts for ease of doing business. COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated delivery of stable and high speed Broadband Internet (data) services to an increasingly large number of subscribers in the country including areas which do not have 4G mobile coverage. This can be achieved by deployment of Public Wi-Fi.
  • Further, the proliferation of public Wi-Fi will not only create employment but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs and boost the GDP of the country.
  • Proliferation of Broadband Services through public Wi-Fi is a step towards digital India and consequential benefit thereon.
  • No License Fee for providing broadband internet services using public Wi-Fi Hotspots will massively encourage its proliferation and penetration across the length and breadth of the country.
  • Availability and use of Broadband will enhance incomes, employment, quality of life, ease of doing business etc.

Who will Operate PM-WANI?

PM-WANI eco-system will be operated by different players:

  • Public Data Office (PDO): It will establish, maintain, and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers.
  • Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA): It will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to Authorization and Accounting.
  • App Provider: It will develop an App to register users and discover WANI compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby area and display the same within the App for accessing the internet service.
  • Central Registry: It will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs, and PDOs. To begin with, the Central Registry will be maintained by C-DoT.

PIB News National

Atmanirbhar Bharat RojgarYojana (ABRY)


On 9th December, 2020, the Union Cabinet has approved Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY) to boost employment in formal sector and incentivize creation of new employment opportunities during the Covid recovery phase under Atmanirbhar Bharat Package 3.0.

  • Cabinet has approved an expenditure of Rs. 1,584 crore for the current financial year and Rs.22,810 crore for the entire Scheme period i.e. 2020-2023.

Salient Features of the Scheme

  • Government of India will provide subsidy for two years in respect of new employees engaged on or after 1st October, 2020 and upto 30th June, 2021.
  • Government of India will pay both 12% employees' contribution and 12% employers' contribution i.e. 24% of wages towards EPF in respect of new employees in establishments employing upto 1000 employees for two years.
  • Government of India will pay only employees' share of EPF contribution i.e. 12% of wages in respect of new employees in establishments employing more than 1000 employee for two years.
  • An employee drawing monthly wage of less than Rs. 15000/- who was not working in any establishment registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) before 1st October, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number or EPF Member account number prior to 1st October 2020 will be eligible for the benefit.
  • Any EPF member possessing Universal Account Number (UAN) drawing monthly wage of less than Rs. 15000/- who made exit from employment during Covid pandemic from 01.03.2020 to 30.09.2020 and did not join employment in any EPF covered establishment up to 30.09.2020 will also be eligible to avail benefit.
  • EPFO will credit the contribution in Aadhaar seeded account of members in electronic manner.
  • EPFO shall develop a software for the scheme and also develop a procedure which is transparent and accountable at their end.
  • EPFO shall work out modality to ensure that there is no overlapping of benefits provided under ABRY with any other scheme implemented by EPFO.

PIB News International

10th Anniversary Of ADMM-Plus


  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh virtually attended the 10th anniversary of the founding of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).
  • The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States (collectively referred to as the “Plus Countries”), to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.

Current News International Rankings, Reports,Survey And Index

The Production Gap 2020


On 2nd December, 2020, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)released the Production Gap Report, 2020.

About the Report

  • The first Production Gap Report was launched in November 2019.
  • Modelled after UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report series and conceived as a complementary analysis, the Production Gap Report revealed that while the pandemic and resulting lockdowns led to “short-term drops” in coal, oil and gas production, pre-COVID plans and post-COVID stimulus measures point to a continuation of increasing fossil fuel production.

Key Findings

  • The report highlights the discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production levels and the global levels necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C or 2°C. This gap is large, with countries aiming to produce 120% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response measures have introduced new uncertainties to the production gap (the difference between national production plans and low-carbon (1.5°C and 2°C) pathways, as expressed in fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions).
  • The fossil fuel production gap will continue to widen if countries return to their pre-COVID plans and projections for expanded fossil fuel production.
  • To follow a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2020 and 2030.
  • Countries are instead planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2%, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit.
  • Between 2020 and 2030, global coal, oil, and gas production would have to decline annually by 11%, 4%, and 3%, respectively, to be consistent with a 1.5°C pathway.
  • This translates to a production gap similar to 2019, with countries aiming to produce 120% and 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C, respectively.
  • To date, governments have committed far more COVID-19 funds to fossil fuels than to clean energy. Policymakers must reverse this trend to meet climate goals.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a reminder of the importance of ensuring that a transition away from fossil fuels is just and equitable.
  • Countries that are less dependent on fossil fuel production and have higher financial and institutional capacity can transition most rapidly, while those with higher dependence and lower capacity will require greater international support.

Key Recommendations

Six main areas of action for governments could help ensure a managed, just, and equitable transition away from fossil fuels that “builds back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic:

Ensure COVID-19 recovery packages and economic stimulus funds support a sustainable recovery and avoid further carbon lock-in

  • Many countries have begun to make investments in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, green hydrogen, and improved pedestrian infrastructure.
  • But if this is accompanied by significant support for high-carbon industries, COVID-19 recovery measures still risk locking in high-carbon energy systems and development pathways for decades into the future.
  • Governments that choose to invest in high-carbon industries to boost economies and safeguard livelihoods in the short term — perhaps because they see few near-term alternatives — can nonetheless introduce conditions to that investment to promote long-term alignment with climate goals.

Provide local and international support to fossil-fuel dependent communities

  • Each country and region faces unique challenges in a transition away from fossil fuels, depending on their dependence on production and their capacity to transition.
  • Inclusive planning is essential, as is financial, technical, and capacity-building support for communities with limited financial and institutional capacity.

Reduce Existing Government Support for Fossil Fuels

  • Many long-standing forms of government support to fossil fuels — including consumer subsidies, producer subsidies, and public finance investment — stand in the way of a sustainable recovery to COVID-19 and need to be ended.

Introduce Restrictions on Fossil Fuel Production Activities and Infrastructure

  • Restricting new fossil fuel production activities and infrastructure can avoid locking in levels of fossil fuel production higher than those consistent with climate goals. It can also reduce the risk of stranded assets and communities.

Enhance Transparency of Current and Future Fossil Fuel Production Levels

  • A key barrier to aligning energy and climate plans is the lack of clarity on levels of fossil fuel production and planned or expected growth. To improve transparency, countries could ensure that relevant production data are more readily and publicly accessible.
  • They can also provide information on how their fossil fuel production plans align with climate goals, and on their support to the production of fossil fuels.
  • Governments can also take steps to disclose their level of exposure to fossil fuel asset stranding and associated systemic risk, and to require companies within their jurisdiction to do so.

Mobilize and Support a Coordinated Global Response

  • Policies to transition away from fossil fuels will be most effective if supported by countries collectively, as this will send consistent, directional signals to energy producers, consumers, and investors.
  • International cooperation, both through established channels and in new forums, can support a just and equitable wind down of fossil fuels.
  • The Paris Agreement’s global stocktake, nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LEDS) offer opportunities to facilitate a transition away from fossil fuel production through the UN climate change process.
  • International financial institutions can help shift financial support away from fossil fuel production while scaling up support for low-carbon energy.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • Founded in 1972 by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Maurice Strong, UNEP is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.
  • Its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)

  • It was created during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also referred to as RIO+20 in 2012.
  • It is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, with a universal membership of all 193 Member States.

News Crux Study/Survey/Report

Urban Quality Of Life Index By IIT Bombay


IIT-Bombay, recently released its Urban Quality of Life Index, wherein the institution compared the life quality in various cities all over India on the basis of some common denominations and ranked them accordingly. It has various categories of comparisons including water, power, electricity, literacy rate, gender parity, employment rate among others.

Findings

  • Cities with Highest Quality of Life: Mumbai provides the highest quality of life in the country, closely followed by Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.
  • City with Lowest Quality of Life: Bihar’s capital city Patna has been ranked at the lowest position, providing the poorest quality of life to its people. It ranks lowest in several categories including basic amenities, safety and security, economic development, infrastructure and gender role.
  • Gender Parity Index: Chennai offers best gender parity. The city has shown the least gender discrimination and differences. Kolkata and Mumbai also exceed the average score for gender role index. However, some of the most developed cities in the country including Delhi- the national capital, haven’t performed well in this parameter. Jaipur,Indore and Patna were way below average on the gender parity issue. Patna remains the worst performing city when it comes to gender discrimination.
  • Crime: According to the study, the pink city of Jaipur has the highest crime rate against women, as compared to other cities in the list. Chennai recorded the lowest crime against women.
  • Unemployment: The unemployment levels for women in Patna is higher than the other cities, the gap stood at 346 which is four times the urban average score of 73.
  • Literacy: The literacy rate was highest in Pune at 91 per cent and lowest in Hyderabad at 83 per cent. The literacy gap between men and women was highest in Jaipur at 13.2 per cent and lowest in Kolkata with 5.4 per cent.

News Crux States In News

TN Forms Commission For Caste Census


  • The Govt. of Tamil Nadu has formed a Commission to go into the modalities on the gathering of quantifiable data for a caste census, based on the present circumstances, and file a report.
  • The Commission will be headed by former High Court judge A Kulasekaran.
  • Several political parties and social organisations had been demanding at various points of time for a caste-wise census and such a statistics was required to ensure that the government schemes reached all sections of society.
  • The caste-wise quantifiable data was also needed to argue the cases pending in the Supreme Court relating to the 69 per cent reservation followed in the State.

News Crux Sports

JehanDaruvala: First Indian To Win F2 Sprint Race


JehanDaruvala created history as he became the first Indian to win an F2 race when he finished ahead of the likes of Mick Schumacher and Dan Ticktum in a sprint race in Sakhir, Bahrain.

Formula 1 Vs Formula 2

  • Models: In Formula 1 race, a variety of different models take to the track. But in F2, cars are completely identical.
  • Skill & Machine:In F1, while driver’s skill is instrumental in finishing the race on top, the build of the car also plays a role. In F2, talent shines over the cars specifications.
  • Engine: Both the Williams F1 car of Formula 2 racing and the variety of F1 cars are fitted with a V8 engine, but Formula 2 vehicles sport an rpm of 10,000 while F1 cars hit up to 18,000 rpm. F2 cars are backed by a 500 horsepower engine, which is about half that of a Formula 1 vehicle.
  • Speed:Max speeds are relatively similar, with F2 topping out about 30 kmh less than F1.

News Crux Awards

‘Invest India’ Wins Investment Promotion Award 2020


  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) declared ‘Invest India’ as winner of the United Nations Investment Promotion Award 2020.
  • The award ceremony took place at the UNCTAD headquarters in Geneva.
  • The award recognises and celebrates the outstanding achievements of the world’s investment promotion agencies.
  • The evaluation was based on UNCTAD’s assessment of work undertaken by 180 national investment promotion agencies across the world.

About Invest India

  • Invest India is the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India and act as the first point of reference for investors in India.
  • Invest India, set up in 2009, is a non-profit venture under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
  • Mr. Deepak Bagla is the MD & CEO of Invest India.
  • As the national investment promotion and facilitation agency, Invest India focuses on sector-specific investor targeting and development of new partnerships to enable sustainable investments in India.
  • In addition to a core team that focuses on sustainable investments, Invest India also partners with substantial investment promotion agencies and multilateral organizations. Invest India also actively works with several Indian states to build capacity as well as bring in global best practices in investment targeting, promotion and facilitation areas.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

Conservation Outlook Of Western Ghats Grim: IUCN Report


  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Heritage Outlook 3 published recently, builds on previous reports from 2014 and 2017 to track whether the conservation of the World’s 252 natural world heritage sites is sufficient to protect them in the long term.
  • According to the 2020 report, the conservation outlook of the mountain chain of the Western Ghats, one of the world’s eight hottest hot spots of biological diversity, is of significant concern.
  • India's iconic Western Ghats, inscribed by UNESCO in 2012 as a natural world heritage site.
  • Population pressure, urbanization,agricultural expansion, livestock grazing and forest fragmentation are posing serious threats to the species and habitats of the Western Ghats.
  • Climate change will probably exacerbate a system already under pressure and has the potential to impact on the large-scale monsoonal processes, which influence the Western Ghats.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

ZSI Study On Malayan Giant Squirrel


  • A first-of-its-kind study by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has projected that numbers of the Malayan Giant Squirrel (Ratufabicolor) could decline by 90 per cent in India by 2050, and if urgent steps are not taken, the species could be extinct in the country in subsequent decades.
  • In India, the Malayan Giant Squirrel is currently found in parts of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.
  • Destruction of its habitat could restrict the squirrel to only southern Sikkim and North Bengal by 2050, according to the ZSI.
  • India is home to three giant squirrel species; the other two – Indian Giant Squirrel and Grizzled Giant Squirrel – are found in peninsular India.
  • Giant squirrels are diurnal, but arboreal (tree-dwelling) and herbivorous.
  • The health of the species is critical because it indicates the health of the forests it inhabits.
  • The species is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on IUCN’s 2016 list, and it is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act.

News Crux International

UN Removes Cannabis From ‘Most Dangerous Drug’


  • The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, decades after they were first placed on the list.
  • At its ongoing 63rd session, the 53-member CND has chosen to affirm a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation from 2019 to remove cannabis from its ‘most dangerous’ category, with 27 Member States voting in favour, 25 against, and one abstention.
  • India was part of the voting majority, along with the US and most European nations. China, Pakistan and Russia were among those who voted against, and Ukraine abstained.
  • Currently in India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, illegalises any mixture with or without any neutral material, of any of the two forms of cannabis – charas and ganja — or any drink prepared from it.

PIB News National

I&B Ministry Advisory On Advertisements On Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports


Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued an advisory on Advertisements on Online gaming, fantasy sports and others.

Finer Points

  • No gaming advertisement may depict any person under the age of 18 years or who appears to be under the age of 18 engaged in playing a game of Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings or suggest that such person can play these games.
  • For print and static, every such gaming advertisement must carry the disclaimer that this game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive, so please play responsibly and at your own risk. Such a disclaimer should occupy no less than 20 per cent of the space in the advertisement.
  • For Audio and Video, it said, this game involves and elements of financial risk and may be addictive and play responsibly at your own risk. It said, such a disclaimer must be placed in normal speaking pace at the end of the advertisement.
  • The advertisement should not present as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option. The advertisement should also not suggest that a person engaged in gaming activity is in any way more successful as compared to others.
  • The guidelines will be effective from the 15th December 2020.

News Crux National

Consent For Contempt Of Court


  • Section 15 of Contempt of Courts Act 1971, describes the procedure for contempt of court.
  • In the case of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, and in the case of High Courts, the Advocate General, may bring in a motion for initiating a case of criminal contempt.
  • If the motion is brought by a private citizen, the consent of the Attorney General or the Advocate General in writing is mandatory and this is exercised to save the judicial time of the court.
  • The court itself can initiate a contempt of court case (suomotu) through its power (Article 129 of the Constitution).
  • If AG denies consent, petition ends there itself.However, complainant can urge the court to take suomotu cognizance.

News Crux National

Nisarg Gram: 21st Century Abode Of Naturopathy


  • The Ministry of AYUSH is setting up a new campus of National Institute of Naturopathy (NIN), Pune called “Nisarg Gram”.
  • This decision has been taken to invoke recollections of Mahatma Gandhi's famous nature cure campaign of 1946 at the 'NisargUpchar' Ashram in UruliKanchan village near Pune.
  • The new institute’s curricula will be prepared in the light of National Education Policy, 2020. The curricula will be rationalised to bring about qualitative, pedagogical understanding of Naturopathy and allied disciplines at the UG and PG level.
  • Bachelors and Masters courses in Naturopathy and allied disciplines will be the focal programmes at Nisarg Gram.
  • The proposed Doctoral programs in Naturopathy at Nisarg Gram will be the first of its kind and will further strengthen the Naturopathy and Yoga education in the country.
  • The institution will place emphasis on the symbiotic relationship between research and teaching and the need to foster this relationship with respect to Naturopathy. The research activities at Nisarg Gram will provide scope for clinical, basic and literary researches.

News Crux States In News

Assam Govt. Launches ‘Orunodoi’Scheme


  • Assam Govt. has launched its flagship scheme ‘Orunodoi’ on 1st December 2020 at NumaliJalah Parade Ground, Aminagon.

Aim: The aim of this scheme is to provide food security and poverty alleviation.

About the Scheme

  • There will be a transfer of money (Rs. 830) to the beneficiary every month towards buying medicines, lentils, sugar, and fruits. This is not binding, beneficiaries may use them as per their requirement.
  • Preference will be given to the households having widow, unmarried women and especially abled person.
  • One of the other salient features of this program is to ensure timely credit of the right subsidy amount transferring the benefit directly into the account of the nominated female head of the household.

Who are not Eligible?

  • The households having, four-wheeler, tractor, TV, fridge, etc. will not be eligible under the Scheme.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

Apex Committee For Implementation Of Paris Agreement (AIPA)


The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on 2nd November 2020 issued a Gazette notification on forming a high-level inter-ministerial Apex Committee for Implementation of Paris Agreement (AIPA).

Purpose

  • The purpose of the AIPA is to generate a coordinated response on climate change matters which ensures that India is on track to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement, including its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
  • It will oversee the implementation of climate change targets that India has committed to under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Composition

  • The AIPA will have members from 14 ministries and will be chaired by the MOEFCC secretary.
  • The constituent ministries include health, power, renewable energy, finance, science & technology, jalshakti, earth sciences, urban affairs, rural development, commerce & industry, apart from the government’s policy think-tank, the NITI Aayog.

Assigned Task

  • AIPA would operate as a national authority to regulate carbon markets in India, formulate guidelines for consideration of projects or activities, issue guidelines on carbon pricing, market mechanism, and other similar instruments that have a bearing on climate change and NDCs.
  • It will also take note of the contribution made by the private sector as well as multi- and bi-lateral agencies in the field of climate change and provide guidance for aligning their climate actions with national priorities.

Commitments under NDC

India has made eight commitments under the NDC, which has three quantitative goals —

  • i.Reduction in the emissions intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) by 33-35 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030;
  • ii.Achieving about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030;
  • iii.Creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

India’s Achievements so far

  • India is on track to achieve the first goal (on emissions intensity) well before 2030.
  • India is not only meeting its Paris Agreement targets but also exceeding them.

India's First Indigenously Developed ‘100 Octane’Premium Petrol

  • India's first indigenously developed 100 Octane premium petrol has been launched by Indian Oil Corporation Limited.
  • The high octane premium grade petrol is being marketed under the brand XP-100.
  • With the rolling out of XP-100 developed by Indian Oil Corporation Limited with indigenous technical know-how, India joins a select league of nations having such super grade fuel.
  • Octane ratings are measures of fuel stability that increases engine efficiency.
  • While high-octane premium fuel offers little to no benefits to most models, it helps extract the maximum performance from sports cars.
  • Indian Oil has produced this new 100 Octane petrol at its own Mathura Refinery using the company’s OCTAMAX technology.

News Crux Art/Culture/Heritage

AR Rahman Appointed As The Ambassador For BAFTA Breakthrough India


  • Noted music composer and Academy award winner AR Rahman has been appointed as the Ambassador for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)’s Breakthrough India initiative for 2020-21.
  • This initiative is supported by Netflix and aimed at identifying, and supportingupto 5 talents working in Film, Televisions or Games in India.
  • As part of BAFTA Breakthrough India, a jury of British and Indian industry experts will select five talents from across India to take part in the year-long mentoring and guidance programme. The participants will receive one-to-one mentoring, global networking opportunities, free access to BAFTA events and screenings for 12 months and full voting BAFTA membership.

News Crux Science & Technology

Zebrafish& Heart Regeneration


  • Scientists at Pune-based Agharkar Research Institute have used Zebrafishmodel and identified genes that can promote heart regeneration.
  • Scientists have identified the cellular communication network factor 2a (ccn2a), a gene that can promote heart regeneration by enhancing cardiomyocyte proliferation.
  • Ccn2a promotes the innate regenerative response of the adult zebrafish heart and maybe a promising therapeutic target for humans.
  • Zebrafish – a tiny freshwater fish barely 2-3 cm long can efficiently regenerate its damaged heart within a short time period.
  • Found in South Asia, it is a popular aquarium fish, frequently sold under the trade name Danio.
  • A zebrafish attracts developmental biologists due to its adequate regeneration capacity of almost all its organs, including the brain, heart, eye, spinal cord. This makes it a suitable research model for biomedical scientists.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

Blue Tide Along Indian Beaches


Though uncommon, recently beaches in Maharashtra and Karnataka have witnessed a fluorescent bluish glow when the waves hit the shoreline.

  • Bioluminescence or light-emitting tides were witnessed on Juhu beach in Mumbai and Devgad, Velas and Murud along the state’s coastline. It was also witnessed along Dakshina Kannada-Udupi coast.

The Phenomenon behind Blue Tide

  • ‘Blue tides’ appear when marine life Noctilucascintillans, commonly known as the sea sparkle, marine-dwelling species of dinoflagellate that exhibits bioluminescence is disturbed.
  • Its bioluminescence is produced throughout the cytoplasm of this single-celled protist, by a luciferin-luciferase reaction in thousands of spherically shaped organelles, called scintillons.

What is Bioluminescence?

  • Bioluminescence is the property of a living organism to produce and emit light.
  • Animals, plants, fungi and bacteria show bioluminescence.
  • For a reaction to occur, a species must contain luciferin, a molecule that, when it reacts with oxygen, produces light.
  • Many organisms also produce the catalyst luciferase, which helps to speed up the reaction.
  • Bioluminescence property helps organisms to protect themselves from predators as well as gather together and to make colonies.

What are Red Tides?

  • A red tide is a dangerous overgrowth of microscopic marine plants known as algae. The overgrowth can turn coastal waters bright red and release toxins that harm marine life, birds and humans.
  • Though “red tide” is the common term for the phenomenon, many scientists prefer “harmful algal bloom,” or HAB. Not all HABs cause water to turn red, however.

News Crux Science & Technology

''IEEE Milestone'' Status For Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope


  • The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), located at Khodad village, near Pune, Maharashtra has received the prestigious ''IEEE Milestone'' status by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), USA.
  • IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology in all areas related to electrical and electronics engineering that honours significant technical achievements and excellence in unique products, services, seminal papers and patents for the benefit of humanity.
  • This is only the third such IEEE Milestone recognition for an Indian contribution. Earlier, J C Bose’s demonstration of generation and reception of radio waves (1895) and the discovery of the Raman Effect by C V Raman (1928) have been the only IEEE milestone winners from India (recognized only in 2012).
  • The GMRT is among the largest and most sensitive low- frequency radio observatories in the world. It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
  • Late GovindSwarup,the father of radio astronomy in India, was the brainchild behind the setting up of this Telescope.