Current Affairs Jan 26

Akash-NG Missile

Why in News?

  • DRDO conducted the successful maiden launch of Akash-NG (New Generation) Missile from Integrated Test Range off the coast of Odisha.

About Akash-NG

  • Akash-NG is a new generation Surface to Air Missile meant for use by Indian Air Force with an aim of intercepting high maneuvering low RCS aerial threats.
  • The Akash-NG system has been developed with better deployability compared to other similar systems with canisterized launcher and much smaller ground system footprint.
  • The test launch was carried out by a combined team of DRDO, BDL & BEL in the presence of the representatives of Indian Airforce.





Why in News?

  • A large-scale tri-service joint amphibious exercise AMPHEX – 21 was conducted in Andaman & Nicobar group of islands from 21 – 25 Jan 2021.
  • The exercise involved participation of Naval ships, amphibious troops of the Army and different types of aircraft from the Air force.


  • The exercise was aimed at validating India’s capabilities to safeguard the territorial integrity of its island territories.
  • It also sought to enhance operational synergy and joint warfighting capabilities amongst the three Services.
  • The exercise involved multi-faceted maritime operations by synergised employment of amphibious assault ships, surveillance platforms, execution of maritime air strikes and complex manoeuvres at sea.
  • Airborne insertion of Marine Commandos of Navy and Special Forces of the Army, naval gunfire support, amphibious landing of forces and follow-on operations also formed part of the exercise.
  • Ex KAVACH for defence of Andaman & Nicobar Islands formed a part of AMPHEX – 21.
  • A joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance exercise under the aegis of HQ Integrated Defence Staff was also run concurrently to achieve Maritime Domain Awareness by employment of a multitude of sensors.




Agri-Food Techathon

Why in News?

  • Union Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ inaugurated the Agri-Food Techathon 2021.
  • Also laid the foundation for Agri-Business Incubation Centre (ABIC), which will incubate innovative ideas in the agriculture and food technology domain for creating ‘Agri-preneures.’


  • The vision of incubating startups to create an ecosystem under the Agri-Food Techathon 2021 will bring together science and technology, and agriculture to support the farmers of our country.
  • Such initiatives will help take the ‘Vocal for Local and Local for Global’ initiative to each corner of our country.
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, in collaboration with NABARD, organised the ‘Agri-Food Techathon 2021’ (AFT 2021), a first-of-its-kind event to promote the participation of India’s youth in innovation and entrepreneurship in different domains of the Agri-Food sector.




National Company Law Appellate Tribunal

Why in News?

  • Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs inaugurated the Chennai Bench of National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
  • The Chennai Bench of NCLAT shall have jurisdiction to hear the Appeals arising out of the orders passed by the benches of NCLT having jurisdiction of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Lakshwadeep and Puducherry.

New Benches

  • Five new Benches of NCLT have been announced at Jaipur, Cuttack, Kochi, Indore and Amaravati, bringing the total number of Benches to 16 (including the Principal Bench).
  • The NCLAT now functions at a strength of 5 courts, 4 at the Principal Bench in New Delhi and the 5th at NCLAT, Chennai.
  • The Principal Bench of the NCLAT shall hear appeals other than those in the jurisdiction of Chennai Bench of the NCLAT.
  • The Union Government’s decision to set up a bench of the NCLAT at Chennai will give a major relief to the companies and litigants in Southern States of India, who faced great difficulty in travelling to Delhi for work pertaining to filing and arguing of appeals in the NCLAT.
  • This will reduce the pendency of cases, shorten the period of process and shall result in speedier disposal of the cases.
  • Advent of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 has benefited the economy in several ways.




Padma Awards 2021

Padma Awards

  • Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
  • The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.
  • ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service;
  • ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field.
  • The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.
  • These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year.




 Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards-2020

Why in News?

  • The President of India has approved the conferment of Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards – 2020 on 40 persons which includes Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak to 01, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak to 08 and Jeevan Raksha Padak to 31 persons. One award is posthumous.

About Award

  • Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are given to a person for meritorious act of human nature in saving the life of a person.
  • The award is given in three categories, namely, Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak and Jeevan Raksha Padak. Persons of all walks of life are eligible for these awards.  The award can also be conferred posthumously.
  • The decoration of the award (medal, certificate signed by the Union Home Minister and lump sum monetary allowance) is presented to the awardee in due course by the respective Union Ministries/Organizations/State Government to which the awardee belongs.




Bharat Parv 2021


  • Bharat Parv, a mega event is organized every year to coincide with the republic Day Celebrations.
  • The event envisages generating patriotic fervor and showcases the rich and varied cultural diversity of the country.
  • Bharat Parv 2021 scheduled from January 26 – 31, 2021 by Ministry of Tourism.
  • The overall theme of Bharat Parv will also be focused towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.

Role of Prasar Bharati

  • Prasar Bharati, the National Broadcaster plays significant role towards promoting cultural diversity and national integration.



National Baseline Geoscience Data Generation Programmes (2020-2024)

Why in News?

  • To expedite exploration activities in the country, Geological Survey of India (GSI), has embarked upon an ambitious scheme to complete some major National level surveys by 2024:
      • National Geochemical Mapping (NGCM),
      • National Geophysical Mapping (NGPM),
      • National Aero Geophysical Mapping Program (NAGMP).

Other Initiatives

  • GSI is also going to adopt sophisticated deep penetration geophysical techniques such as Magneto-Telluric Surveys and Deep Seismic Reflection Surveys (DSRS) in order to define the crustal architecture for deep seated mineral targeting.
  • GSI has also initiated its flagship initiative of National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) for collation of all the geoscience data of the country involving GSI,
      • Other national organizations with geoscience as a focused activities,
      • All the state directorate of mines and geology, the academia engaged in research and development in the domain,
      • The CPSEs engaged in exploration and geoscientific pursuits, and private sector agencies working in the domain.
      • It aims at integrating the collected data by GSI and the similar organizations to build a repository on the digital medium entailing multiple user access.

Significance of these Programmes:

  • The collation, assimilation and integration of the data generated from the above projects and further interpretation will lead to identification of more areas for mineral exploration in the country.
  • The increased investment in mineral exploration will build a robust pipeline of prospective mineral blocks for auction.
  • This will ensure long-term viability and continuity of mining in the country taking India towards the cherished goal of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
  • The data generated through this mapping activity has helped to build up the knowledge database for National Geo-scientific information, which helps in boosting mineral exploration activities, and other earth science related socio-economic activities and programmes.




Green Tax to Be Imposed On Older Vehicles

Why in News?

  • The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has approved a proposal to levy a “Green Tax” on old vehicles which are polluting the environment.
  • The proposal will now go to the states for consultation before it is formally notified.

The main principles to be followed while levying the Green Tax are:

  • Transport vehicles older than 8 years could be charged Green Tax at the time of renewal of fitness certificate, at the rate of 10 to 25 % of road tax;
  • Personal vehicles to be charged Green Tax at the time of renewal of Registration Certification after 15 years;
  • Public transport vehicles, such as city buses, to be charged lower Green tax;
  • Higher Green tax (50% of Road Tax) for vehicles being registered in highly polluted cities
  • Differential tax, depending on fuel (petrol/diesel) and type of vehicle;
  • Vehicles like strong hybrids, electric vehicles and alternate fuels like CNG, ethanol,LPG etc to be exempted;
  • Vehicles used in farming, such as tractor, harvestor, tiller etc to be exempted;
  • Revenue collected from the Green Tax to be kept in a separate account and used for tackling pollution, and for States to set up stateof-art facilities for emission monitoring

The benefits of the “Green Tax” could be:

  • To dissuade people from using vehicles which damage the environment
  • To motivate people to switch to newer, less polluting vehicles
  • Green tax will reduce the pollution level, and make the polluter pay for pollution.

The Minister also approved the policy of deregistration and scrapping of vehicles owned by Government department and PSU, which are above 15 years in age. It is to be notified, and will come into effect from 1st April, 2022.


It is estimated that commercial vehicles, which constitute about 5% of the total vehicle fleet, contribute about 65-70% of total vehicular pollution. The older fleet, typically manufactured before the year 2000 constitute less that 1 % of the total fleet but contributes around 15% of total vehicular pollution. These older vehicles pollute 10-25 times more than modern vehicles.





“Indian Sign Language”

Why in News?

  • The Tableau of Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment at the this year’s Republic Day Parade showcase the theme ‘Bhartiya Sanketik Bhasha– Ek Rashtra, Ek Sanketik Bhasha’.


  • The aim of the Tableau is to raise awareness and highlight the commitment of the Government towards creating a barrier-free environment for persons with hearing disabilities by promoting ISL.

Sign Language

  • Sign language is a visual language that uses hands, facial and body movements as a means of communication for persons with hearing disabilities.
  • It is a unique and unifying language that connects all persons with hearing disabilities in the country.
  • There are many spoken languages in the country, but there is only one Indian Sign Language.
  • Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), New Delhi was set up on 28th September, 2015, as an autonomous body under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The main objective of the Centre is to develop manpower for using, teaching and conducting research in Indian Sign Language.




Promote Purchase of American Products

Why in News?

  • S. President Joe Biden will sign an order requiring the federal government to increase its purchases of American goods, relative to foreign goods.

What it Means?

  • Order asks agencies to update the existing ‘Buy American’ government procurement rules – including by requiring an increase in the amount of U.S. content that has to go into products being sold to the federal government and updating how the composition of products is measured.
  • It also increased the government’s price differential for American products relative to foreign ones.
  • The order also mandates the creation of a new senior position to oversee the Buy American program and a website to publish any waivers to the sourcing requirements.
  • Mr Biden has been undoing a number of his predecessor Donald Trump’s policies – such as those that were viewed as divisive, or harmed particular minority groups, or promoted American retrenchment from the world.

Impact on India

  • While the order will impact several countries that trade with the US governent, Indian manufacturers are not likely to be impacted in a significant way.
  • S. procurement is already very restricted for India because India is not part of any trade agreement with the United States covering government procurement.
  • S. statistics show that India is not among the top 20 foreign suppliers to the U.S. procurement market.




Telangana to Strengthen Agriculture

Why in News?

  • Telangana Chief Minister has said that the government will not only keep agriculture live but strengthen it further in the State irrespective of the transformation in the agricultural marketing sector at the national level due to the new farm laws.
  • Asked agricultural officers to record details on cropped area at the micro level within 10 days.
  • The agriculture department must shift focus from `pen-paper’ to `field-plough’ method of extension service.
  • The farmers’ premsies that the government was constructing, should house offices of Agriculture Extension Officers and farmers coordination committees.
  • The agriculture officers must always be available to assist farmers. They should be advised to stop cultivation of a single crop and instead go for alternate cropping which was more fetching.




Immune system of recovered COVID-19 patients

Why in News?

  • People who recover from COVID-19 are protected against the novel coronavirus for at least six months, and likely much longer, according to a study which says the immune system evolves long after the infection and may block even mutant forms of the virus.

Research findings

  • The research, noted that antibodies are produced by immune cells that keep evolving, apparently due to a continued exposure to remnants of the virus hidden in the gut tissue.
  • They suspect that when recovered patients next encounters the virus, the response would be both faster and more effective, preventing reinfection.
  • While antibodies against the coronavirus linger in the blood plasma for several weeks or months, earlier studies have shown that their levels significantly drop with time.
  • However, the researchers showed that instead of producing antibodies all the time, the immune system creates memory B cells that recognise the coronavirus, and quickly unleash a new round of antibodies when they encounter it a second time.
  • Since the novel coronavirus replicates in the cells of the lungs, upper throat, and small intestine, they suspect that residual viral particles hiding within these tissues could be driving the evolution of memory B cells.
  • In the current study, the scientists studied the antibody responses of 87 individuals at two timepoints — one month after infection, and then again six months later.
  • Although antibodies were still detectable by the six-month point, their numbers had markedly decreased, with lab experiments revealing that the ability of the participants’ plasma samples to neutralise the virus was reduced by five-fold.
  • In contrast, the researchers found that the patients’ memory B cells — specifically those that produce antibodies against the coronavirus — did not decline in number.
  • The scientists also discovered that the memory B cells had gone through numerous rounds of mutation even after the infection resolved.
  • As a result, the antibodies they produced were much more effective than the originals.
  • According to the researchers, these antibodies were better able to latch on tightly to the virus, and could recognise even mutated versions of it.




Identify Wildlife Species from DNA

Why in News?

  • The Molecular Biology Lab at the Government Arts College (GAC) in Udhagamandalam has designed and standardised a DNA amplification technique that will allow researchers to identify the species and sex of tigers and leopards from scat and tissue samples.
  • The authors of the paper note that species authentication from scat and tissue samples is essential for detecting illegal wildlife trade and for formulating conservation strategies.
  • As DNA in old scat from tigers has a high chance of degradation, very short, specific, DNA sequences can be targeted to identify the species and sex of tigers and leopards.

Earlier vs New Method

  • Previous allele-specific (gene variant) methods at species identification targeted a specific nucleotide for amplification, but researchers at the GAC also altered a nucleotide, resulting in precise species and sex-specific amplification, making identification quick, and extremely efficient.


  • If a tiger or a leopard is poached in Tamil Nadu and found in a different part of the country, we could use these techniques to identify the exact animal that was killed, its home range and other aspects, which could further strengthen the forest department’s efficacy at fighting wildlife crimes.

The Hindu



Cosmic Rideshare Programme

Why in News?

  • A veteran rocket from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company launched 143 spacecraft into space, a new record for the most spaceships deployed on a single mission.
  • The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
  • The reusable rocket ferried 133 commercial and government spacecraft and 10 Starlink satellites to space – part of the company’s Small Sat Rideshare Programme, which provides access to space for small satellite operators seeking a reliable, affordable ride to orbit.




Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Act

Why in News?

  • The Company Law Committee (CLC), headed by the Corporate Affairs Secretary, has recommended that 12 offences under the LLP Act be decriminalised and that LLPs be allowed to issue NCDs to raise funds with the aim of improving ease of doing business for limited liability partnership (LLP) firms.

Which offences under the LLP Act has the committee recommended for decriminalisiation?

  • Several offences related to timely filings, including annual reports and filings on changes in partnership status of the LLP, not related to fraud have been recommended for decriminalisation.
  • While none of these provisions recommended for decriminalisation in the CLC report currently have prison terms as a possible punishment, the panel has recommended that companies be required to pay penalties for non-compliance, instead of fines which are imposed after a partner or the LLP is found guilty of misconduct by a court.
  • The report notes that there is a risk of a convicted person being disqualified or becoming ineligible for various posts in the case of fines imposed by courts, which would not be the case for penalties imposed by an appropriate authority. The Registrar of Companies would have the authority to levy penalties for any contravention of provisions of the LLP Act.

Who benefits from the permission for LLPs to issue NCDs?

  • The CLC has also recommended that LLPs which are currently not allowed to issue debt securities be permitted to issue non-convertible debentures (NCDs) to facilitate raising of capital and financing operations.
  • The move is likely to benefit startups and small firms in sectors which require heavy capital investment.





Why in News?

  • An expert body looking into Bharat Biotech’s application for testing its proposed single-dose intranasal Covid-19 vaccine, BBV154, has asked it to revise its protocol to conduct clinical trials.

What is an intranasal vaccine?

  • Vaccines are most commonly administered as injectable shots into the muscles (intramuscular) or the tissue just between the skin and the muscles (subcutaneous).
  • However, with intranasal vaccines, the solution is squirted or sprayed into the nostrils and inhaled instead of injecting it. It isn’t the most common route of administering a vaccine and, so far, only some flu shots are given this way.

What are the benefits to an intranasal vaccine during a pandemic?

  • Intranasal vaccines cut down on the need for syringes, needles and other components like alcohol swabs, as they are not injected.

What are the potential setbacks?

  • Past attempts to develop intranasal vaccines, including for measles flu, have not been very successful.
  • These vaccines have mostly been made using live, weakened viruses, but have never cleared clinical trials. Only a live attenuated influenza flu vaccine has been licenced through this route of delivery.
  • Bharat Biotech’s BBV154 is the first publicised attempt at getting an intranasal Covid-19 vaccine.
  • However, this vaccine uses the same novel route of developing an immune response as the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield–it is a chimpanzee adenovirus vector vaccine.




Rhesus Macaque

Why in News?

  • The rhesus macaque, a monkey widely prevalent in India, is a promising model for vaccines against Covid-19, according to two independent studies.
  • Animal studies help scientists predict how well a candidate vaccine will work.
  • They inform scientists which immune cells triggered by the vaccine are protective, whether the vaccine will be viable as a human intervention, and how the disease progresses in people with compromised immune systems.
  • Scientists have reported that rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2 developed protective immune responses that might be reproduced with a vaccine.
  • Scientist have evaluated three nonhuman primate species — Indian rhesus macaques, African baboons and new-world origin common marmosets — and young and old animals.
  • They found that the macaque and baboon models develop strong signs of acute viral infection leading to pneumonia, and the non-human primate immune system mounts a strong response and clears the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • The researchers followed immune responses in the rhesus macaques over about two weeks. The animals showed all the signs of producing an effective immune response to a viral infection.




The Great Reset

What is it?

  • The Great Reset is an initiative by the World Economic Forum.
  • It has been conceptualised by the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, and has evolved over the last few years. It is based on the assessment that the world economy is in deep trouble.

The agenda of The Great Reset touches on many key issues facing the world.

  • First is the question of reforming capitalism. Davos has been at the forefront of calling for “stakeholder capitalism” that looks beyond the traditional corporate focus on maximising profit for shareholders.
  • Second, Davos is certainly right to focus on the deepening climate crisis. Climate sceptics have been ousted from Washington and President Biden has rejoined the 2015 Paris accord on mitigating climate change.
  • Third is the growing difficulty of global cooperation that Davos wants to promote. The era of great power harmony that accompanied the liberalisation of the global economy at the turn of the 1990s has yielded place to intense contestation. The contestation is not just political but increasingly economic and technological.




China takes new foreign investment top spot from US

Why in News?

  • New investments into America from overseas companies fell by almost half last year, leading to the loss of its number one status.
  • In contrast, UN figures show direct investment into Chinese firms climbed 4%, putting it number one globally.
  • The top ranking shows China’s growing influence on the world economic stage.
  • In 2019, the US received $251bn in new foreign direct investment while China received $140bn.
  • While China may be number one for new foreign investment, the US still dominates when it comes to total foreign investments.
  • China, currently involved in a trade war with the US, has been predicted to leapfrog it to the number one position by 2028.




Jail Tourism

Why in News?

  • Maharashtra government has decided to initiate ‘jail tourism’ from January 26.
  • Similar initiatives have been taken in other parts of the country, especially in Delhi’s Tihar jail which came up with a ‘jail tourism project’ in 2019.
  • The programme will begin from Yerawada jail in Pune. It will be developed as a tourism site since many freedom fighters were jailed there.
  • The programme will allow students, students of history and even common men and women to experience the historic events that took place inside the state’s prisons.
  • Thane, Nasik, Dhule, Pune, Ratnagiri are a few places in Maharashtra where these great freedom fighters were imprisoned by British.

Yerawada Jail

  • The famous Poona Pact between Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi took place beneath a mango tree at Yerawada jail.
  • In 1899, the Chapekar brothers were given death sentence in this jail.
  • Schools, colleges, educational institutions will be given the chance to see these historic places under the jail tourism project.
  • Terrorists Jinda and Sukha, who murdered General Vaidya, and Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab were all hanged in the same jail.

India Today

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