Current Affairs Jan 30

‘Prabuddha Bharata’

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister will address the 125th anniversary celebrations of ‘Prabuddha Bharata’, a monthly journal of the Ramakrishna Order, started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896, on 31st January, 2021.
  • The event is being organized by Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati.

About ‘Prabuddha Bharata’

  • The journal ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ has been an important medium for spreading the message of India’s ancient spiritual wisdom.
  • Its publication was started from Chennai (erstwhile Madras), where it continued to be published for two years, after which it was published from Almora.
  • Later, in April 1899, the place of publication of the Journal was shifted to Advaita Ashrama and it has been continuously published from there since then.
  • Some of the greatest personalities have left their imprint on the pages of ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ through their writings on Indian culture, spirituality, philosophy, history, psychology, art, and other social issues.
  • Luminaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sister Nivedita, Sri Aurobindo, Former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, among others, have contributed to the Journal over the years.
  • The Advaita Ashrama is working towards making the entire ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ archive available online on its website.




Development of Union Territory of Ladakh

Why in News?

  • An agreement was signed between CSIR and Ladakh UT to accelerate its development through S&T interventions.


  • The purpose is to establish knowledge partnership between the Ladakh UT and CSIR, aimed at development in the areas such as bioresource utilization endemic to Ladakh, introduction of cash crops in the region and exploration of natural resources.

Areas of Interest

  • The broad areas of interest include industrial agriculture with a focus on commercialization of endemic & other high value medicinal, aromatic and nutraceutical plants/crops, bio prospection of endemic microbial and plants diversity.
  • Geophysical mapping, eco-friendly leather processing and microbiological & biotechnological interventions are some of the other areas of focus.




 India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library

Why in News?

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched a new campaign of highlighting 80 success stories from the organization as it is set to turn 80 years old in 2022.
  • This campaign was launched recently as CSIR’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) completes two decades of safeguarding India’s Traditional Knowledge.
  • In 2001, CSIR jointly with Department of Indian Systems of Medicine & Homeopathy (ISM&H, now Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) developed the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL).
  • This initiative was a follow up action to thwart misappropriation of India’s valuable traditional knowledge, based on learnings from the patent battles with international patent offices over the grant of intellectual property rights on turmeric, neem, basmati rice and other such ancient knowledge and practices of the country.



Best Marching Contingents during Republic Day Parade 2021

Why in News?

  • Jat Regimental Centre Marching Contingent has been adjudged as the best marching contingent among the three services during the Republic Day Parade at the majestic Rajpath on January 26, 2021.
  • Delhi Police Marching Contingent has been chosen as the best marching contingent among Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and other auxiliary forces.
  • They have been adjudged on the basis of the assessment of the panels of judges and the results of the competitive presentation of the contingents.
  • Three panels of judges were appointed for assessing the performance of marching contingents from three Services, marching contingents from CAPFs/other Auxiliary Forces, tableaux from various States/Union Territories (UTs) Central Ministries/Departments/CAPFs and other auxiliary forces and Schoolchildren items.
  • Among the tableaux of States/Union Territories (UTs) Uttar Pradesh, Tripura and Uttarakhand were chosen 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively.
  • Department of Biotechnology was chosen the best tableau among the Central Ministries/Departments/CAPFs/other auxiliary forces. Special prize was given to the tableau of Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
  • Combined performance of Mount Abu Public School and Vidya Bharti School have been adjudged best school performance while the consolation prize went to Delhi Tamil Education Association Schools.




IN FAC T-81 Decommissioned

Why in News?

  • Indian Naval Fast Attack Craft (IN FAC) T-81 of the Super Dvora MK II class, was decommissioned at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai after having served the nation successfully for more than 20 years.


  • The 25 meters long vessel with 60 tonnes displacement was built at Goa Shipyard Ltd. In collaboration with M/s Ramta of Israel.
  • She was commissioned into the Navy on 05 Jun 1999.
  • The ship, specially designed for shallow waters, could achieve speeds up to 45 knots and had the capability of day/night surveillance and reconnaissance, Search & Rescue, beach insertion, extraction of Marine Commandoes and high speed interception of intruder craft.




STARS Project

Why in News?

  • Agreement for the financial support of the implementation of Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project of Ministry of Education was signed between Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) and World Bank along with Ministry of Education.


  • STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), MOE.
  • Earlier Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of STARS project on 14th Oct 2020.
  • The project covers 6 States viz Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha.
  • The identified States will be supported for various interventions for improving the quality of education.

The Program envisions

  • Improving the overall monitoring and measurement activities in the Indian school education system through interventions in selected states.
  • STARS will draw on existing structure under Samagra Shiksha with the DoSEL, MoE as the main implementing agency at the national level.
  • At the State level, the project will be implemented through the integrated State Implementation Society (SIS) for Samagra Shiksha.

Program for Results (PforR)

  • The proposed World Bank support under STARS is primarily in the form of a results-based financing instrument called Program for Results (PforR).
  • This will ensure major reforms at the State level through a set of disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs).
  • A State Incentive Grant (SIG) will be used to encourage States to meet desired project outcomes.
  • STARS project will be instrumental in the implementation of various recommendations of National Education Policy 2020 i.e. Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Foundational Learning, Improving Learning Assessment System, ICT-enabled approaches in education, Teachers Development and Vocational education etc.




11% growth in fiscal 2022

  • India’s economy is firmly in the middle of a V-shaped recovery and will bounce back to record 11% growth in 2021-22 after an estimated 7.7% contraction this year, according to a ‘conservative’ estimate in the Economic Survey for 2020-21.
  • The Survey termed the growth a ‘lockdown dividend’ from the country’s stringent response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The V-shaped economic recovery while avoiding a second wave of infections make India a sui generis case in this unique, synchronized global recession.
  • A rapid vaccination roll-out this year could boost recovery in the services sectors as well as stir up private consumption and investment.
  • With India expected to emerge as the fastest growing economy in the next two years as per IMF, the Survey argued that the country’s “mature policy response to this ‘once-in-a-century’ crisis provides important lessons for democracies to avoid myopic policy-making and demonstrates the significant benefits of focusing on long-term gains”.
  • While India’s absolute growth numbers may be remarkable in 2021-22 due to the low base effect, returning to pre-pandemic growth and output levels would take longer.
  • The global economy, including India, has been set back in time by the pandemic induced crisis.
  • In the five years before 2020-21, Indian economy grew at an average growth of 6.7%.
  • In 2021-22, a sharp recovery of real GDP growth of 10%-12% is expected based on a low base effect and inherent strengths of the economy. It is assumed that the economy grows at its trend growth rate of 6.5% in 2022-23 and 7% in 2023-24, aided by the structural reforms.
  • If two scenarios of 12% growth and 10% growth in 2021-22 are envisaged, India would be 91.5% and 90% below the trend level of output, respectively, by 2023-24.




Funds Received By NGOs

Why in News?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has laid down a charter for banks which says that “donations received in Indian rupees” by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and associations from “any foreign source even if that source is located in India at the time of such donation” should be treated as “foreign contribution”.

As per the existing rules,

  • All banks have to report to the Central government within 48 hours, the “receipt or utilisation of any foreign contribution” by any NGO, association or person whether or not they are registered or granted prior permission under the FCRA.
  • Last September, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, was amended by Parliament and a new provision that makes it mandatory for all NGOs to receive foreign funds in a designated bank account at the State Bank of India’s New Delhi branch was inserted.
  • FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country.
  • All NGOs seeking foreign donations have to open a designated FCRA account at the SBI branch by March 31.
  • The NGOs can retain their existing FCRA account in any other bank but it will have to be mandatorily linked to the SBI branch in New Delhi.

The charter for the banks said,

  • “It may be noted that foreign contribution has to be received only through banking channels and it has to be accounted for in the manner prescribed. Any violation by the NGO or by the bank may invite penal provisions of The FCRA, 2010.”

In 2019,

  • MHA had amended FCRA rules where it said that even persons prohibited to receive foreign funds such as journalists, politicians, members of the judiciary “are allowed to accept foreign contribution from their relatives” if the amount does not exceed ₹1 lakh. Any such transaction above ₹1 lakh will have to be informed to MHA.
  • FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country. The Act, first enacted in 1976 was amended in the year 2010 and then 2020.


‘High out-of-pocket expenses for health can lead to poverty’

  • India has one-of-the highest level of Out-Of-Pocket Expenditures (OOPE) contributing directly to the high incidence of catastrophic expenditures and poverty, notes the Economic Survey.
  • It suggested an increase in public spending from 1% to 2.5-3% of GDP — as envisaged in the National Health Policy 2017 — can decrease the OOPE from 65% to 30% of overall healthcare spend.
  • The Survey states about 65% of deaths in India are now caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) with ischemic heart diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and stroke being the leading causes.
  • The Survey observes that the health of a nation depends critically on its citizens having access to an equitable, affordable and accountable healthcare system. The OOPE, as a share of total health expenditure, drops precipitously when public health expenditure increases.
  • The life expectancy in a country correlates positively with per capita public health expenditure.
  • The Economic Survey observed that bulk of the healthcare in India is provided by the private sector. “Private hospitals charge much higher than government hospitals for treatment of same ailment and higher charges do not assure better quality.
  • India has very low rate of screening for cancers among women in the age bracket of 15-49 years at 22 per cent for cervical cancer, 10 per cent for breast cancer and 12 per cent for oral cancer when compared to 62 per cent, 59 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in OECD Countries.




Focus On Growth than On Alleviating Inequality’

  • India must keep its focus on economic growth, rather than trying to alleviate inequality, says the Economic Survey, arguing given India’s current stage of development, redistribution of wealth is not feasible without growing the overall pie.
  • Unlike the developed world, in India, economic growth and inequality both have similar correlations with socio-economic indicators such as health, education, fertility rates, crime and drug usage.
  • The Survey also draws on the Chinese experience to suggest in countries with high growth rates and high levels of absolute poverty, there is no trade-off between growth and inequality.
  • An Oxfam report had showed Indian billionaires increased their wealth by 35% during the lockdown at a time when a quarter of the country was earning less than ₹3,000 per month.
  • Last year’s Survey had pushed for “ethical wealth creation” as the way forward for India’s economic development, but this year’s Survey considers the criticism that inequality is inherent in such a model.
  • It refutes the argument put forward in many advanced economies regarding the trade-off between growth and inequality alleviation.




‘Withdraw Forbearance Once Economy Recovers’

  • The Economic Survey 2020-21 has prescribed an early withdrawal of the regulatory forbearance that was adopted in the wake of the pandemic to ward off the threat of financial sector failures impacting the real economy.
  • “Forbearance represents emergency medicine that should be discontinued at the first opportunity when the economy exhibits recovery, not a staple diet that gets continued for years”.
  • During the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the forbearance, which should have been discontinued in 2011 when GDP, exports, IIP and credit growth had all recovered significantly, continued for seven years resulting in unintended and detrimental consequences for banks, firms, and the economy, the survey asserted.
  • The lesson for policymakers was “to treat emergency measures as such and not to extend them even after recovery: when an emergency medicine becomes a staple diet, it can be counterproductive.”
  • Prolonged forbearance is likely to sow the seeds of a much deeper crisis… forbearance should be accompanied by restrictions on zombie lending to ensure a healthy borrowing culture.





Quantum Computers Will Never Reign Supreme over Classical Ones

Why in News?

  • Crunch numbers fast and at scale has been at the centre of computing technology.

Quantum Computers

  • Quantum computers have been in development since the 1980s. They use properties of quantum physics to solve complex problems that can’t be solved by classical computers.
  • Quantum computers are not ‘supreme’ against classical computers because of a laboratory experiment designed to essentially [and almost certainly exclusively] implement one very specific quantum sampling procedure with no practical applications.
  • For quantum computers to be widely used, and more importantly, have a positive impact, it is imperative to build programmable quantum computing systems that can implement a wide range of algorithms and programmes.
  • To maximise the potential of quantum computers, the industry must solve challenges from the cryogenics, production and effects materials at very low temperatures.
  • Quantum processors require special conditions to operate, and they must be kept at near-absolute zero.
  • Quantum computing is expanding to multiple industries such as banking, capital markets, insurance, automotive, aerospace, and energy.
  • As researchers make advancement into quantum computers, some cryptocurrency enthusiasts fear that quantum computers can break security encryption. To mitigate risks associated with cryptography services, Quantum-safe cryptography was introduced.
  • Lattice-based cryptography is the core for another encryption technology called Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE). This could make it possible to perform calculations on data without ever seeing sensitive data or exposing it to hackers.



Pongal Bird Count

Why in News?

  • At the end of Pongal bird count in and around the city, birders have found the avian life to be alive and abundant, not just in the sanctuaries but also in numerous small water bodies and even backyards.


  • The Pongal bird count, which has been taking place in Tamil Nadu since 2015, is a model based on the Christmas bird count in Western countries.


  • The aim is primarily to encourage people to go around to water bodies near their residences.
  • This is a citizen science activity that takes place for four days.





Increase Ration Shop Prices Of Rice and Wheat

  • The Centre must increase the prices which 80 crore poor people pay for subsidised rice and wheat at ration shops to trim the ‘bulging’ food subsidy bill, the Economic Survey recommended.
  • Under the National Food Security Act, ration cardholders are allowed to buy 5 kg of foodgrains per person each month at a subsidised rate of ₹2 per kg of wheat and ₹3 per kg of rice.
  • This rate, known as the Central Issue Price (CIP), has not been increased since the NFSA was enacted in 2013.
  • However, the Food Corporation of India’s economic cost of buying and distributing foodgrains had surged since then.
  • For wheat, the economic cost had risen from ₹19 per kg in 2013-14 to almost ₹27 per kg in 2020-21. For rice, the increase is from ₹26 per kg to ₹37 per kg. The NFSA also increased the number of people covered by the public distribution system (PDS). Together, they account for a rise in government spending on food subsidy.
  • “The food subsidy bill is becoming unmanageably large. While it is difficult to reduce the economic cost of food management in view of rising commitment towards food security, there is a need to consider the revision of CIP to reduce the bulging food subsidy bill.
  • In its previous report for 2019-20, the Survey had recommended that the Essential Commodities Act be repealed, calling it an “anachronistic legislation. Its advice was partially followed, with the Centre amending that law as part of its reforms last summer.




Bare necessities gap between States has narrowed since 2012

  • Poorer States have reduced the gap with rich States when it comes to in providing their citizens with access to the basics of daily life — housing, water, power, sanitation, cooking gas — according to a new ‘Bare Necessities Index’ (BNI) in the Economic Survey 2020-21.
  • The index, which draws its name from Baloo the Bear’s song in the movie adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, uses existing National Statistical Office (NSO) survey data to show that between 2012 and 2018, serious gains were made in the area of sanitation although equity in housing access still lagged behind.
  • Richer States such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat top the index, while the eastern Indian States of Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura occupy the lowest rungs.
  • States which showed significant improvement include Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
  • Inter-State disparities in the access to ‘the bare necessities’ have declined in 2018 when compared to 2012 across rural and urban areas.
  • Access to ‘the bare necessities’ has improved disproportionately more for the poorest households when compared to the richest households across rural and urban areas.
  • The improvement in equity is particularly noteworthy because while the rich can seek private alternatives, lobby for better services, or if need be, move to areas where public goods are better provided for, the poor rarely have such choices.
  • BNI could be constructed at district level using large annual household survey data, to show progress.
  • The index attempts to carry forward the ‘Thalinomics’ exercise in the last Economic Survey, which calculated the average Indian’s access to a plate of food. The survey also correlated the BNI to child mortality and school enrolment data to show the link to health and education outcomes.
  • Access to household toilets, piped water, and a reduction in air pollution due to the use of clean cooking fuel have an outsize impact on child health.
  • Studies also showed that girls were more likely to go to school if they had access to toilets, and do not need to spend time hauling water for their families every day.




E-education, If Well Utilised, Can Reduce Inequalities in Educational Outcomes

  • Online schooling, which has taken off in a big way during the COVID-19 pandemic, can help reduce inequalities in educational outcomes if it is well-utilised, the Pre-Budget Economic Survey said.
  • Quoting the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 Wave-1 (Rural), the Survey pointed out that the percentage of enrolled children from government and private schools owning a smartphone increased from 36.5% in 2018 to 61.8% in 2020 in rural India.
  • If utilised well, the resultant reduction in the digital divide between rural and urban, gender, age and income groups is likely to reduce inequalities in educational outcomes.
  • PM eVIDYA that aims to enable multi-mode and equitable access to education for students and teachers.
  • Around 92 courses have started and 1.5 crore students are enrolled under Swayam MOOCs which are online courses relating to NIOS.
  • PRAGYATA guidelines on digital education have been developed with a focus on online/blended/digital education for students who are presently at home due to closure of schools, while the ‘Manodarpan’ initiative for psychological support has been included in Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
  • The Economic Survey 2020-21 observed that India will have the highest population of young people in the world over the next decade and that the ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to them will determine the future of the country.
  • India has attained a literacy level of almost 96% at the elementary school level. Citing data from the National Sample Survey (NSS), the literacy rate of persons of age 7 years and above at the All India level stood at 77.7%.
  • Female literacy remained below national average among social groups of SC, ST, OBC, including religious groups of Hinduism and Islam.
  • To provide quality education in schools and institutions of the government in affordable and competitive manner, the government had announced the new National Education Policy, 2020 replacing the 34-year old National Policy on Education, 1986.




Act East Forum

Why in News?

  • India and Japan held the fifth joint meeting of the India-Japan Act East Forum in New Delhi.

What it do?

  • The Act East Forum reviewed progress of ongoing projects in the North Eastern Region of India in various areas including connectivity, hydropower, sustainable development, harnessing of water resources, and skill development.
  • They discussed several ongoing new projects under India-Japan bilateral cooperation and also exchanged views on cooperation in new areas such as healthcare, agro-industries and SMEs, bamboo value chain development, smart city, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.
  • India-Japan Act East Forum has become a platform under which India’s “Act East Policy” and Japan’s vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” converge.
  • The forum came into existence in 2017.





Why in News?

  • An international team of researchers has found evidence of the mineral jarosite in ice cores extracted from Antarctica.

About Jarosite

  • Jarosite is very rarely found on Earth—it is generally seen in mining waste that has been exposed to air and rain.
  • The researchers suggest the mineral formed in ice pockets that also held small amounts of dust.

Jarosite on Mars

  • The finding brought to mind another site where jarosite is found—the surface of Mars.
  • It was found there by the Opportunity rover back in 2004 and has been found to be abundant.
  • Finding jarosite on Mars created a lot of excitement at NASA and around the world, because prior research had shown that water must be present for jarosite formation.
  • The discovery of jarosite on Mars led scientists to come up with theories to explain how it might have originated.
  • Some suggested it might have been left behind as salty water evaporated. Others suggested that Mars might have been covered by a massive ice blanket billons of years ago. They further suggested that jarosite could have formed in ice pockets.
  • Now that jarosite has been found deep in Antarctic ice, the latter theory will likely become the most prominent.
  • The researchers note that the theory still has one glitch—the ice in Antarctica contains very small amounts of jarosite—on Mars, the mineral is found in large slabs. The researchers suggest that the difference might be explained by the huge amounts of dust on the Martian surface.



Global Climate Litigation Report: 2020

  • Climate litigation cases have spiked in recent years, making the courtroom increasingly relevant to efforts to address climate change around the world, an UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report.


  • Climate cases have nearly doubled over the last three years and are increasingly compelling governments and corporate actors to implement their climate commitments, as well as pursue more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.
  • The report, published by the UNEP in cooperation with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, shows climate litigation has become more common and more successful worldwide.
  • In 2017, 884 cases were brought in 24 countries; as of 2020, cases had nearly doubled, with at least 1,550 climate change cases filed in 38 countries (39 including the European Union courts).
  • While climate litigation continues to be concentrated in high-income countries, the report’s authors expect the trend to further grow in the global south. The report lists recent cases from Colombia, India, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines and South Africa.
  • Some of the recent trends in climate litigation identified by the report include: Violations of “climate rights”, i.e. cases are increasingly relying on fundamental human rights including the right to life, health, food, and water.
  • The other litigation is “Greenwashing” and non-disclosures, when corporate messaging contains false or misleading information about climate change impacts.
  • In the coming years, the UNEP expects climate litigation to increase in national and international bodies, especially with respect to companies misreporting climate risks, governments failing to adapt to extreme weather events, and cases brought to enforce previous court decisions.

Business Standard



India Justice Report 2020

What it Says

  • At 25.3 per cent, Bihar leads the list of 25 states for employing most women in its police force, according to the second annual survey on police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid, India Justice Report.
  • The state finished ahead of Himachal Pradesh (19.2%) and Tamil Nadu (18.5%).
  • However, although it is the only state to have more than 20 per cent women in the police force, women account for only 6.1 per cent in the officer category.
  • Tamil Nadu, the report says, has the highest percentage of women police officers (24.8%) , followed by Mizoram (20.1%).
  • On diversity, Karnataka is the only state to meet its quotas for SC, ST and OBC in both officer cadre and constabulary, Chhattisgarh being the only other state that meets the diversity requirements for constabulary.
  • The report analysed expenditure, vacancies, representation of women and members of SC, ST and Other Backward Classes, across 18 large and mid-sized states with a population of over 1 crore and eight smaller states.
  • The report was an initiative of Tata Trusts, along with the Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, CHRI, DAKSH and TISS-Prayas and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
  • Sikkim tops the list with 33.3 per cent women – Sikkim High Court has just three judges, Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai being its lone woman judge. Overall, only 29 per cent judges in HCs across the country are women, but no state except Sikkim has over 20 per cent women judges.
  • Andhra Pradesh tops the list with 19 per cent, followed by Punjab and Haryana, where the common HC for the two states has 18.2 per cent women judges.
  • Four states — Bihar, Uttarakhand, Tripura and Meghalaya — have no woman judge in its high courts.
  • Women account for 10 per cent of all police personnel, up from 7 per cent in January 2017; 13 per cent prison staff (10% in December 2016); 29.3% of judges (26.5% in 2017-18).
  • Maharashtra retained the top spot on delivery of justice to people among 18 large and mid-sized states, followed by Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab and Kerala.



1 thought on “Current Affairs Jan 30”

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