Current affairs Jan 16

ECI Regarding Protection to Election Officials

Why these Directions?

  • Many instances have come to the notice of the Election Commission of India wherein Chief Electoral Officers and some other officials working directly in the office of Chief Electoral Officers, have been victimised after the elections are over.
  • In most such instances the concerned officers had discharged their duties in an impartial manner in order to ensure free, fair, robust and ethical elections.
  • After a comprehensive review of this issue and keeping in view such specific instances, Commission has addressed a communication to all concerned vide its letter No. 154/2020, dated 15-01-2021 interalia stating: –
  1.  The state/UT governments shall invariably obtain prior approval of the Commission, if any disciplinary action is initiated against the Chief Electoral Officers and other officers up to Joint Chief Electoral Officer during their tenure and also up to one year from the expiry of last election conducted by them.
  2.  Commission has also directed that the State/UT government shall not reduce facilities such as vehicle, security and other facilities/amenities provided to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer for proper discharge of his/her duties.



India and Japan Sign MoU

Why in News?

  • India and Japan signed MoU to enhance cooperation in the field of Information and Communications Technologies.

In the Fields of

  • Department of Telecom, Government of India and Ministry of Communications, Government of Japan will enhance mutual cooperation in the field of 5G technologies, telecom security, submarine optical fiber cable system to islands of India, spectrum management, smart cities, high altitude platform for broadband in unconnected areas, disaster management and public safety etc.
  • Apart from Ministry level cooperation, Government of India organization such as C-DOT and ITI Limited along with industry partners from Japan will also part of this cooperation.



World’s First Hybrid Aerospace and Defence Exhibition

Why in News?

  • With a combination of both physical and virtual exhibition, the 13th edition of Aero India 2021 being held from February 3 to 5 is being touted as the world’s first hybrid aerospace and defence exhibition.
  • This edition of Aero India is being held only as a business event as the five-day event has been cut short to three days and two public days have been given a go-by due to COVID-19 norms.


  • An MoU was signed by the Union and the Karnataka governments for active participation, shared responsibility and synchronised efforts since Aero India is one of the major international aerospace and defence exhibitions.


  • The theme of the event is “Runway to a Billion Opportunities”.
  • Raksha Mantri also launched the Aero India-21 mobile app which will be the handy interactive interface for all issues related to the event and promises to provide a hassle free entry to the venue.



Driverless Metro Car

Why in News?

  • Raksha Mantri unveiled state-of-the-art ‘Driverless Metro Car’ for Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
  • Indigenously designed & developed state-of-the-art Driverless Metro trains are being manufactured at BEML Bangaluru Complex.



Vittorio Storaro

Why in News?

  • The 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) honoured the Italian cinematographer Mr. Vittorio Storaro with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award, at the opening ceremony.
  • Storaro has received three Oscar Awards for Best Cinematography for the films Apocalypse Now (1979), Reds (1981), and The Last Emperor (1987), and is one of three living persons who have won the award three times.



Advisory on Rooftop Solar


Why in News?

  • To generate solar power by installing solar panels on the roof of the houses, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India is implementing Grid-connected Rooftop Solar Scheme (Phase-II).

Under this scheme

  • Ministry is providing 40% subsidy for the first 3 kW and 20% subsidy beyond 3 kW and upto 10 kW. The scheme is being implemented in the states by local Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOMs).
  • The solar panels and other equipment to be installed by the empanelled vendors shall be as per the standard and specifications of the Ministry and also includes 5-year maintenance of the rooftop solar plant by the vendor.



Chief of Army Staff Commendation

Why in News?

  • Incumbent Chief Controller, Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary has been awarded prestigious “Chief of Army Staff Commendation” for his outstanding contribution to Armed Forces during critical period of Covid19 pandemic and its various operations.
  • He is currently working as Chief Controller in Mil Rail.

About Mil Rail

  • Mil Rail is an extension of Traffic Directorate of Ministry of Railways, headed by Executive Director (ED) level officer with office at Army HQ.
  • Mil Rail is responsible for overall coordination, strategic planning & execution of Railway Logistics support to Defence forces during peace & emergency situations.
  • Mil Rail works in close coordination with Ministry of Defence for Railway operations pertaining to their requirements. A separate control room manages all these Railway operations which is headed by a Chief Controller.



SKOCH Challenger Award

Why in News?

  • Ministry of Panchayati Raj received the SKOCH Challenger Award conferred to Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) under “Transparency in Governance” category for IT-led initiatives and transformational reforms
      • Leading to outcome-based performance improvement, better transparency and strengthening of the e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) across the country.
  • The SKOCH Challenger Award for best performance in the area of Transparency in Governance was given virtually during the 70th SKOCH Summit (SKOCH Public Policy Forum) .

The following are the initiatives of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj for strengthening e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions to enable them to discharge their mandated functions effectively while facilitating transparency, accountability and robust service delivery:


  • The launch and implementation of SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) Scheme has been one of the milestone and major steps ahead towards ensuring socio-economic empowerment of the rural masses with overriding objective of making the rural inhabitant self-reliant.
  • SVAMITVA Scheme aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India, engaging the latest drone surveying technology, for demarcating the inhabitant land in rural areas.
  • Under the SVAMITVA Scheme, the first ever exercise undertaken to carry out property survey of all villages to provide Record of Rights to millions of rural property owners of inhabited area by issuing property card to them for their immovable residential property.
  • This is expected to pave the way to use their property as a financial asset for availing loans and other financial benefits from banks as in the case in towns and cities.
  • Besides, this will ensure modernised and digitised land records for an easier and efficient method of maintaining and updating the land records and bring transparency in the land records management system.


  • In order to strengthen e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), e-GramSwaraj application has been developed with amalgamating the functionalities of currently available applications in the Panchayat Enterprise Suit (PES) under e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP).
  • e-GramSwaraj application provides single window with the complete profile of the Gram Panchayat, including Sarpanch and Panchayat Secretary details, demographic details of Panchayat, details of Panchayat Finances, asset details, activities taken up through Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP), Mission Antyodaya survey reports etc.
  • The application aims to bring in more transparency, thus strengthening the e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) across the country through decentralized planning, process reporting and work-based accounting.
  • Furthermore, the application provides a platform for effective monitoring.

On-line Monitoring Systems of Central Finance Commission (CFC) Funds Flow & Proper Utilisation

  • The key focus areas of Ministry of Panchayati Raj over the last few years has been to track the fund flow of the Central Finance Commission grants and also to ensure timely payments on real-time basis to the service providers in the Panchayats.
  • The Online Payment Module (erstwhile PRIASoft-PFMS Interface (PPI)) is one of its kind whereby Gram Panchayats are carrying out online payments to the vendors and service providers.
  • The main objective of introducing such a module is to have a sound financial management system in the Panchayats leading to their greater credibility and image.


  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission has prescribed for preparation of online audited accounts of the RLBs.
  • In this regard, MoPR has conceptualized and developed an application called “AuditOnline” for online audit of Panchayat accounts in order to strengthening the transparency and accountability at grassroots level.
  • It allows for online audit of Panchayat accounts and records detailed information about internal and external audit.
  • It not only facilitates the auditing of accounts but also provisions for maintaining digital audit records pertaining to audit that has been carried out.
  • In order to familiarize the State PRI and Audit Departments to the working of the application, it has been decided that at least a minimum of 20% of the PRIs in every State would be audited by Audit Online on pilot basis for auditing of the accounts for FY 2019–2020.
  • During the next year, i.e. for FY 2020–21, Audit Online would be fully scaled up to cover 100% of the PRIs.


  • ServicePlus – a versatile and secure solution for service delivery – makes all Government services accessible to the common man in his/her locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man.



Biswajit Chatterjee

Why in News?

  • The 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India, Goa has conferred Shri Biswajit Chatterjee, veteran actor, producer, director and singer of Hindi and Bengali cinema, with the Indian Personality of the Year Award.
  • The Award has been announced at the opening ceremony of the festival, by Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Prakash Javadekar.



SKOCH Challenger Award

Why in News?

  • Shri Arjun Munda, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs will virtually receive “SKOCH Challenger Award” conferred to Ministry of Tribal Affairs for e-Governance for its IT-led initiatives and other transformational initiatives leading to outcome-based performance improvement.

Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) recent initiatives

  • It has digitalised all the processes leading to paperless office, monitoring is data driven, communication to states is online report system and is analytics based and a performance dashboard is updated on a real time basis.
  • Digitalised the entire scholarship release process.
  • Ice-Stupa is a unique project to solve water problem in Ladakh region which faces shortage due to climate change. It is a way to store frozen melt water in the winter which can be used during the spring sowing season. The structure is built comprising of locally found material with large water retention capacity, which looks like Stupa.
  • Swasthya portal is one -stop solution presenting health and nutrition status of the tribal population in India.




Gram Manchitra – Geo-Spatial Planning Application

  • Gram Manchitra is a Spatial Planning Application for facilitating and supporting Gram Panchayat users to perform planning at Gram Panchayat level with the use of geo spatial technology.
  • ‘Real time’ monitoring of development work implementation status and progress of execution of various schemes can be easily tracked.

About the SKOCH Challenger Award

  • The SKOCH Challenger Awards are distinctive for its approach of selection of awardees, which is not based on the nomination but on discovery.
  • The SKOCH Challenger Award is considered India’s Highest Independent Honour and is conferred after exhaustive research and expert evaluations.
  • The SKOCH Challenger Awards acknowledge people, projects and institutions that go the extra mile to make India a better nation.




Mass Awareness Campaign ‘SAKSHAM’

Why in News?

  • With a view to create awareness among the consumers of fossil fuels, Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas today launched a month long campaign, highlighting the adverse health and environmental impacts of increasing carbon footprints.


  • ‘SAKSHAM’s idea is to convince consumers to switch to cleaner fuels and bring in behavioral change to use fossil fuel intelligently.
  • The key drivers include moving towards a gas-based economy, cleaner use of fossil fuels, greater reliance on domestic sources to drive bio-fuels, achieving renewable targets with the set deadlines, increased use of electric vehicles to decarbonize mobility, increased use of cleaner fuels like Hydrogen, and digital innovation across all energy systems.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between PCRA and EESL for promotion of Energy Efficient PNG Stove on the occasion.




Indo Nepal Rail connectivity

Why in News?

  • The section Jayanagar-Kurtha, 34.90 Km is a part of Jaynagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas rail (68.72 KM) project which has entirely been funded by Government of India.
  • As first phase of this project, the rail line from Jayanagar in Madhubani district, Bihar has been connected to Kurtha in Nepal and will be extended up to Bijalpura by March 2021.
  • Jayanagar is 4 Km from the India-Nepal border.
  • This project is being undertaken by IRCON and all rail engineering and infrastructure works are complete.
  • To operate rail service on this route, 2 sets of 1600 HP DEMU passenger rakes have been supplied by Konkan Rail Corporation Limited (KRCL).
  • This will be the first Broad Gauge passenger rail service in Nepal. Prior to this till 2014 a narrow gauge service was running between Jayanagar and Janakpur operated by Nepal.


IMD celebrates its 146th Foundation Day

Why in News?

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) celebrated its 146th Foundation Day, on 15th January.
  • IMD is one of the oldest, scientific service organizations in the country, in existence well before Independence.

Doppler Weather Radars

  • Ministry of Earth Science inaugurated two Doppler Weather Radars, one each at Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand and Kufri in Himachal Pradesh, which will provide valuable support to farmers and disaster managers in both the states, and to the pilgrims undertaking the pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar and Char Dham yatra.


  • Also launched the Multi-Mission Meteorological Data Receiving and Processing System of IMD in collaboration with ISRO (MMDRPS).
  • This system is capable to process rapid scan data of INSAT-3DR Imager payload conducted during extreme weather events or cyclones resulting in better monitoring of such extreme weather events in real time.
  • Multi-Mission Meteorological Data Receiving and Processing System (MMDRPS) system has three dedicated earth station and data receiving system to receive data from currently operational Geostationary INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR satellites and INSAT-3DS to be launched in year the 2021/2022.
  • The MMRDPS system output will be utilized for monitoring of severe weather and many sectorial applications like defence services, disaster management, power sector, aviation, railway, tourism and agriculture.




Osmanabad as Dharashiv

Why in News?

  • Recently Maharashtra CM referred to Osmanabad as Dharashiv (named after 6th century caves) in a tweet, days after using Sambhajinagar for Aurangabad on the official CMO handle.


  • Osmanabad is named after the last ruler of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, while Dharashiv is derived from the name for the sixth-century caves near the city.
  • For 25 years at least, the Shiv Sena has referred to Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar, Osmanabad as Dharashiv and Ahmednagar as Nagar in its mouthpiece Saamna.

The Hindu


‘Startup India Seed Fund’

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister announced the launch of ₹1,000-crore ‘Startup India Seed Fund’ to support startups and help budding entrepreneurs pursue innovative ideas.


  • To provide initial capital for startups, the nation is launching a ₹1,000 crore Startup India Seed Fund. This will help in setting up new startups and promote their growth.

PM says while addressing the ‘Prarambh: Startup India International Summit’

  • Going forward, the government will also help startups in raising debt capital.
  • India is home to the world’s third largest startup ecosystem which has helped several budding entrepreneurs to come up with innovative technologies and become big corporations.
  • In 2014 there were only four startups in the unicorn club, but today there are more than 30.
  • He informed that 11 startups entered the unicorn club in 2020 itself. India is the world’s third largest startup ecosystem. There are over 41,000 startups in the country.
  • Startups in India are not limited to big cities and about 40% of such budding entrepreneurs are coming from tier-II and -III cities.





Glucose addiction & Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

  • Breast cancer is the top cause of cancer-related deaths in Indian women and is the most prevalent type of cancer in women. Worldwide statistics show that about two million new cases were detected in 2018.
  • Researchers studying cancer metabolism have often noted that tumour cells are addicted to glucose.
  • Once glucose enters the cell, it quickly gets fed to pathways and is utilised to multiply and grow. In contrast, normal cells primarily use glucose for energy production.
  • This reprogramming of glucose metabolism by cancer cells often alters the response to drugs used in cancer treatment.
  • An international team has discovered the conflicting roles of two genes in regulating glucose utilisation by breast cancer cells.
  • They revealed that the CBX2 gene promotes glucose uptake and consumption by breast cancer cells whereas CBX7, a sister gene, does the opposite.
  • Targeting these genes and/or their glucose pathway can pave way for new cancer treatments.

CBX genes

  • It is chosen for study because of their essential role in human embryo development.
  • Since metabolic requirements during embryogenesis and carcinogenesis share a striking similarity, researchers are interested in CBX genes and investigated their role in breast cancer.
  • In normal breast cells, they found lower CBX2 but higher levels of CBX7.
  • In breast cancer patients they noted the opposite – higher CBX2 and lower CBX7 expression.
  • Among breast cancer patients, those with higher CBX2 and lower CBX7 expression showed reduced survival.
  • Researchers identified methotrexate and rapamycin as candidate drugs to which patients with higher CBX2 expression in breast tumours may respond favourably.



Fruit flies

Why in News?

  • A study of fruit flies bred in the lab shows that they may actually evolve to modulate their reproductive traits based on the extent of competitiveness of their competing males.
  • This study of 150 generations of fruit flies, spanning about six years, shows how the environment can influence evolution of reproductive traits.
  • Males of different species compete for the attention of females to mate with.
  • In species where the female mates with many males, as in Drosophila (fruit fly) the sperms extend this competition to the post-copulatory domain. This is known as post-copulatory sexual selection.

Evolving traits

  • This study shows that over several generations, males actually evolve to modulate their reproductive investment based on their perception of the number and quality of the competition.
  • It is significant because it shows how male fruit flies change the expression of their reproductive traits depending on the changes in the environment.


India Has the World’s Largest Diaspora Population

Why in News?

  • India has the largest diaspora population in the world with 18 million people from the country living outside their homeland in 2020, according to a report by the United Nations, which says the UAE, the US and Saudi Arabia host the largest number of migrants from India.
  • The report ‘International Migration 2020 Highlights’, by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) released recently,

Report Findings

  • The spatial distribution of transnational populations varies greatly and India’s diaspora, the largest in the world, is distributed across a number of major countries of destination.
  • In 2020, 18 million persons from India were living outside their country of birth. Other countries with a large diaspora population included Mexico and Russia (11 million each), China (10 million) and Syria (8 million).
  • India’s large diaspora is distributed across the United Arab Emirates (3.5 million), the United States of America (2.7 million) and Saudi Arabia (2.5 million). Other countries hosting large numbers of Indian migrants included Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Kingdom.
  • Between 2000 and 2020, the size of the migrant population abroad grew for nearly all countries and areas of the world.
  • India experienced the largest gain during that period at nearly 10 million, followed in order of magnitude by Syria, Venezuela, China and the Philippines.
  • The US remained by far the largest country of destination of international migrants with 51 million migrants in 2020, equal to 18 per cent of the world’s total.
  • Germany hosted the second largest number of migrants worldwide at around 16 million, followed by Saudi Arabia (13 million), Russia (12 million) and the United Kingdom (9 million).
  • Currently, international migrants represent about 3.6 per cent of the world’s population.
  • Between 2000 and 2020, the number of migrants grew in 179 countries or areas.
  • Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America gained the largest number of migrants during that period.
  • In contrast, 53 countries saw a decline in international migrant population between 2000 and 2020.
  • Central and Southern Asia was the birthplace of the second largest number of international migrants (51 million), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (43 million), Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (38 million), Northern Africa and Western Asia (38 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (28 million).


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