Current Affairs Mar 9

Declaration of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO

  • At present, India has 42 sites listed under Tentative List which is a pre-requisite condition for inscription as World Heritage Site.
  • ‘Dholavira: A Harappan City’ has been submitted for nomination of World Heritage Site in 2019-2020.
  • Nomination dossiers of ‘Santiniketan, India’ and ‘Sacred Ensemble of Hoysalas’ have been submitted to UNESCO for the year 2021-22 cycle.
  • Augmentation of sites on the World Heritage List/Tentative List is a continuous process and sites are selected on the basis of their potential for fulfilling criteria under Operational Guidelines and demonstration of Outstanding Universal Value.
  • At present, India has 38 World Heritage Properties. All the sites under the Ministry are conserved as per ASI’s Conservation Policy.




Stand Up India Scheme

Why in News?

  • Ministry of Finance, in the past seven years has launched various Schemes which have special provisions for empowerment of women. These Schemes have financially empowered women to lead a better life and chase their dreams of being an entrepreneur.
  • Stand-Up India Scheme – Stand Up India Scheme was launched on 5 April 2016 to promote entrepreneurship at grass root level for economic empowerment and job creation.
  • This scheme seeks to leverage the institutional credit structure to reach out to the underserved sector of people such as Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Women Entrepreneurs so as to enable them to participate in the economic growth of nation.
  • The objective of this scheme is to facilitate bank loans between Rs.10 lakh and Rs.1 crore to at least one Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) borrower and at least one woman borrower per bank branch of SCBs for setting up a Greenfield enterprise.
  • As on 26.02.2021, more than 81% i.e., 91,109 accounts with an amount of Rs. 20,749 crore have been sanctioned to women entrepreneurs under Stand Up India Scheme.

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) –

  • PMMY was launched on April 8, 2015 for providing loans up to 10 lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises. These loans are classified as MUDRA loans under PMMY.
  • These loans are given by Commercial Banks, RRBs, Small Finance Banks, MFIs and NBFCs.
  • Under the aegis of PMMY, MUDRA has created three products namely ‘Shishu’, ‘Kishore’ and ‘Tarun’ to signify the stage of growth / development and funding needs of the beneficiary micro unit / entrepreneur and also provide a reference point for the next phase of graduation / growth.
  • As on 26.02.2021, about 68% i.e., 19.04 crore accounts with an amount of Rs. 6.36 lakh crore have been sanctioned to women entrepreneurs under MUDRA scheme since inception.

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)

  • PMJDY was launched on 28th August 2014. It envisages universal access to banking facilities with at least one basic banking account for every household, financial literacy, access to credit, insurance and pension.
  • As on 24.02.2021, 23.21 crore accounts, out of the total 41.93 crore accounts opened under the scheme belong to women account holders.




Steps to enhance the safety and security of women

Why in News?

  • To enhance the safety and security of women in the country, Ministry of Home Affairs has taken several initiatives which are funded by the Nirbhaya Fund.
  • A separate Women Safety Division has also been set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to sensitize the States/UTs on women safety related issues including timely completion of investigation of sexual assault cases.
  • Taking a tough stand against heinous incidents of sexual assaults, Government of India has made the punishment of rape more stringent through the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2018.


  • Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) is an online analytical tool launched to monitor and track timely completion of police investigations in sexual assault cases (currently two months as per Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2018). Where, National Database of Sexual Offenders” (NDSO) has been launched to identify repeat offenders and receive alerts on sex offenders, as also in the investigation.


  • Crime Multi Agency Center (Cri-MAC) has been introduced on 12 March 2020 for police stations and higher offices in all States/UTs to share information on heinous crimes and other issues related to coordination in cases of inter-state crime.
  • It can be used to send alerts or related information on crime and inter-state criminals to the States/UTs via an email/SMS.

New citizen Services

  • New citizen Services have been launched by National Crime Records Bureau on its portal relevant for cases of Crimes against Women.
  • These services include functionalities like ‘Missing Person Search’ that helps citizens find their missing kin from the national database of recovered unidentified found person/unidentified dead bodies.
  • Another service is the ‘Proclaimed offenders’ functionality that helps to provide online information on proclaimed offenders to citizens.

Nirbhaya Fund projects fast-tracked

  • Projects funded by Nirbhaya Fund are also being fast-tracked by MHA to enhance the safety and security of women. ‘Emergency Response Support System (ERSS)’ is an example of such initiative. I
  • It is a pan-India, single, internationally recognized number, 112 for various emergencies. ERSS is currently operational in 34 States/UTs in the country and expected to be operational in other states/UTs by March 2021.

Cyber Crime Prevention against Women

  • Cyber Crime Prevention against Women & Children is also a key focus area for MHA.
  • Currently, 14 States including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have set up Cyber Forensic Training Laboratory.

Safe City Projects in 8 cities

  • Among the projects funded by the Nirbhaya Fund, Safe City Projects in 8 cities (Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai) are under implementation.
  • The projects involve the use of technology to improve the safety of women in India. This includes the use of drones, installation of CCTV cameras to alert Police about criminals and criminal activity, technology-enabled infrastructure like smart lighting systems which glow as soon as it gets dark to eliminate dark alleys and crime hot-spots from cities, and toilets for women which can be located on Google Maps.

Strengthening Forensic Science Laboratories

  • Another initiative by MHA to improve the administration of justice in India by strengthening of Forensic Science Laboratories.
  • Forensic science is an important aspect of any criminal investigation, as it can allow the authorities in identifying suspect in a crime, determine the timeline and other details related to crime.
  • To further improve the criminal investigation strengthening the Forensic Science facilities in the country is also funded by the Nirbhaya Fund.




Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM) Programme

Why in News?

  • The per capita water availability in the country is reducing due to increase in population.
  • Water being a State subject, steps for augmentation, conservation and efficient management of water resources are primarily undertaken by the respective State Governments.
  • In order to supplement the efforts of the State Governments, Central Government provides technical and financial assistance to them through various schemes and programmes.

Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM) Programme

  • Government of India is implementing Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM) Programme which was brought under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) – Har Khet Ko Pani 2015-16 onwards.
  • The main objectives of CADWM program are:
  1. Utilize irrigation potential created (IPC) under the project soon after its creation;
  2. Improve water use efficiency;
  3. Increase agricultural productivity and production; and
  4. Bring sustainability in the irrigated agriculture in a participatory environment.
  • Under CADWM Scheme operated by the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, financial assistance is given to the States for creation of Micro irrigation infrastructure in the canal irrigated commands with an aim to improve water use efficiency and promote micro-irrigation.
  • It is provisioned in the CADWM scheme that micro-irrigation shall cover at least 10% of the targeted CCA of the Project.
  • Central Assistance @ 50% are being provided with a cost norm of Rs.50,000 per hectare for development of micro irrigation infrastructure covering construction of sump, installation of water pump, and laying of piped conveyance system up to the field head.
  • Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare is implementing Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana – Per Drop More Crop (PMKSY-PDMC) which focuses on water use efficiency at farm level through precision/micro irrigation (Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation System) for promotion of better on-farm water management practices to optimize the use of available water resources.
  • This component also supports micro level water storage or water conservation/management activities to supplement Micro Irrigation.




All Major Schemes of WCD Ministry classified

Why in news?

  • For effective implementation of various schemes and programmes of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, all major schemes of the Ministry have been classified under 3 umbrella schemes viz. Mission Poshan 2.0, Mission Vatsalya and Mission Shakti.
  • Women and Children constitute 67.7% of India’s population as per the 2011 census.
  • Empowerment and protection of women and children and ensuring their wholesome development is crucial for sustainable and equitable development of the country.

Mission Shakti

  • Ministry of Women and Child Development strives to ensure well-nourished and happy children growing in a safe and secure environment and empower women by providing them with an environment which is accessible, affordable, reliable and free from all forms of discrimination and violence.
  • There is a need to create an inclusive society where women and girls have equal access to resources and opportunities, enabling them to participate in the social, economic and political development of India.
  • Women are key agents for achieving transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.
  • To achieve this objective, continuation of existing schemes with suitable modifications is inevitable and necessary which can be achieved through Mission Shakti.


  • Children are the future of our country. Well-being of children is essential for the country’s development as they contribute to the future human resource of the country. To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcomes, Government is merging the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and Poshan Abhiyan to launch Mission POSHAN 2.0.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has taken many initiatives to ensure safety and well-being of children. Mission VATSALYA will ensure the same going ahead.




SDG India Index & Dashboard, 2020-21

Why in news?

  • The third rendition of India’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index will be launched by NITI Aayog on 10 March 2021.
  • First launched in December 2018, the index has become the primary tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs in the country and has simultaneously fostered competition among the States and Union Territories.

SDG India Index & Dashboard, 2020-21: Partnerships in the Decade of Action

  • The index measures the progress at the national and sub-national level in the country’s journey towards meeting the Global Goals and targets and has been successful as an advocacy tool to propagate the messages of sustainability, resilience, and partnerships, as well.
  • With one-third of the journey towards achieving the 2030 agenda, this edition of the index report focuses on the significance of partnerships and is titled “SDG India Index & Dashboard, 2020-21: Partnerships in The Decade of Action”.




ISRO to Handle Projects Of Security, Advanced Technology

Why in News?

  • The India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) would be in charge of projects linked to “national security and advanced technology” — like the forthcoming Chandrayaan 2 missions and the Gaganyaan mission that plans to send Indian cosmonauts into space.
  • However, the bulk of commercial activities would increasingly be handled by the newly formed New Space India Limited.
  • The NSIL most recently coordinated the launch of the Amazonia satellite by Brazil on February 28 — its first fully commercial mission — that also saw 18 other satellites being launched.

About NSIL


  • It was incorporated in March 2019 and in June 2020 “enhanced” its scope.
  • Its mandate would include owning satellites for earth observation and communication applications;
  • Providing space-based earth observation and communication service;
  • Building satellites and launching them as per demand;
  • Building launching vehicles through Indian industry and launch as per requirements;
  • Providing launch services; and
  • Technology transfer to Indian industry.

It would act as the aggregator of user requirements and obtain commitments.




Immune system’s T-killer cells

Why in News?

  • Some mutations in the novel coronavirus may not only enable it to evade antibodies, but also make the virus unrecognisable to the immune system’s T-killer cells, says a new study which could aid in the further development of vaccines.
  • While antibodies dock directly onto viruses to neutralise them, the scientists said the T-killer cells recognise viral protein fragments on infected cells and subsequently kill them to stop virus production.
  • These are regions on the virus recognised by the body’s T cells.
  • There are several epitopes available for recognition by T-killer cells in most natural infections, and if the virus mutates in one place, other sites on its surface may still indicate its presence to T cells.
  • The spike protein of the virus, which it uses to enter cells and against which most vaccines are targeted, has, on average, one to six of these T cell epitopes.
  • If the virus mutates in one of these regions, the risk that the infected cells will not be recognized by the T-killer cells increases.
  • The findings provide important insights on how the novel coronavirus interacts with the immune system.




Legalise Cannabis Cultivation

Why in News?

  • In a significant announcement in his annual budget speech last week, Himachal Chief Minister announced that the state government is coming up with a policy to allow controlled cultivation of hemp or cannabis in the state.

Isn’t cannabis cultivation illegal in India?

  • Yes and no. In 1985, India banned the cultivation of cannabis plant under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
  • But this Act allows state governments to allow controlled and regulated cultivation of hemp for obtaining its fibre and seed for industrial or horticultural purposes.
  • In 2018, Uttarakhand became the first state in the country to do so, allowing the cultivation of only those strains of cannabis plant which have a low concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the primary psychoactive constituent of cannabis that produces a high sensation.
  • Uttar Pradesh followed a similar policy, while Madhya Pradesh and Manipur are reportedly considering it as well.

What are the uses of hemp?

  • In parts of Himachal such as Kullu and Mandi, hemp had traditionally been used for making footwear, ropes, mats, food items, etc.
  • Globally, cannabis products are increasingly being used for health and medicinal purposes, and the plant has also been used to make building material.




 ‘COVID Tongue’

Why in News?

  • ‘COVID tongue’ may be a new condition associated with COVID-19, and it was identified with the help of the ZOE COVID-19 Symptoms Study app.
  • COVID tongue is an inflammatory disorder that usually appears on the top and sides of the tongue.
  • Affected tongues typically have a bald, red area of varying sizes that is surrounded by an irregular white border.
  • Because the affected areas on the tongue can change in shape and size, like the continental drift, the disease is commonly referred to as “geographic tongue” (GT).
  • The cause of GT is unknown and the condition can occur any time in life, including in childhood and it is estimated to affect 1-2.5 percent of the population.
  • Some factors that may be responsible for the condition include emotional stress, psychological factors, habits, allergies, diabetes and hormonal disturbances.
  • GT might be associated with elevated levels of an inflammatory cytokine, a protein which is associated with cytokine storms that some COVID-19 patients suffering from severe disease may face.
  • The tongue is also rich in the expression of the ACE2 receptor that the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds with to infect cells.

Less common symptoms and conditions associated with COVID-19

COVID toe’

  • COVID toe is one of the conditions whose cases were reported initially from Spain and the US. The skin condition causes purple, blue or red discolouration of the toes (and sometimes fingers).

‘Long covid’

  • For some infected with COVID-19, symptoms may last for weeks or even months after recovery of the virus.
  • The most commonly reported long term symptoms of the disease are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain and chest pain.
  • Some other reported long-term symptoms include difficulty with thinking and concentration, depression, muscle pain, headache, intermittent fever and fast-beating or pounding heart, which is also known as heart palpitations.

Cytokine storms

  • In some patients of COVID-19, severe disease can be caused as a result of a cytokine storm, which is when the body’s immune system goes into an overdrive. When the immune system response is not regulated, it can cause damage that can lead to sepsis and death in some cases.

Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS)

  • This is a rare autoimmune disorder in which the immune system accidentally starts attacking the peripheral nervous system.




Global heating pushes tropical regions towards limits of human livability

  • The climate crisis is pushing the planet’s tropical regions towards the limits of human livability, with rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions.
  • Should governments fail to curb global heating to 1.5C above the pre-industrial era, areas in the tropical band that stretches either side of the equator risk changing into a new environment that will hit “the limit of human adaptation.
  • Humans’ ability to regulate their body heat is dependent upon the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air.
  • Humans have a core body temperature that stays relatively stable at 37C (98.6F), while our skin is cooler to allow heat to flow away from the inner body. But should the wet-bulb temperature – a measure of air temperature and humidity – pass 35C, high skin temperature means the body is unable to cool itself, with potentially deadly consequences.
  • If it is too humid our bodies can’t cool off by evaporating sweat – this is why humidity is important when we consider livability in a hot place.
  • High body core temperatures are dangerous or even lethal.
  • This means that the world’s temperature increase will need to be limited to 1.5C to avoid risking areas of the tropics exceeding 35C in wet-bulb temperature, which is so-called because it is measured by a thermometer that has its bulb wrapped in a wet cloth, helping mimic the ability of humans to cool their skin by evaporating sweat.
  • Around 40% of the world’s population currently lives in tropical countries, with this proportion set to expand to half of the global population by 2050 due to the large proportion of young people in region.
  • The Princeton research was centered on latitudes found between 20 degrees north, a line that cuts through Mexico, Libya and India, to 20 degrees south, which goes through Brazil, Madagascar and the northern reaches of Australia.



Most distant source of radio emission discovered

Why in News?

  • An international team of astronomers have discovered the most distant ‘radio-loud’ quasar with the help of European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT). It took 13 billion years for the quasar’s light to reach earth.

About Quasars

  • Quasars are very luminous objects in faraway galaxies that emit jets at radio frequencies.
  • They are only found in galaxies that have supermassive blackholes which power these bright discs. However, 90 per cent of them do not emit strong radio waves, making this newly-discovered one special.
  • Most active galaxies have a supermassive black hole at the centre which sucks in surrounding objects. Quasars are formed by the energy emitted by materials spiralling around a blackhole right before being sucked into it.
  • It is also one of the fastest accreting quasars, which means it is accumulating objects from the galaxy at an enormous speed.




Exposure to air pollution can cause anaemia in very young children

  • Exposure to higher levels of particulate matter 2.5 in ambient air can result in anaemia in children under five years, according to a study by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
  • Malnutrition and anaemia are rampant in India, with 60 per cent of the children being anaemic as of 2016, according to the National Family and Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4).
  • Anaemic conditions in children worsened because of the high concentration of particulate matter 2.5 in the ambient air.
  • The plausible reasons for these results could be links between exposure to air pollution and inflammation which leads to alterations in iron trafficking in the body.
  • The liver, in such cases, produced hepcidin, a protein that tends to inhibit both dietary iron absorption and recycling of iron from erythrocytes.
  • It was observed that DDS has no effect on the association between PM 2.5 and childhood anaemia.
  • Other factors such as body mass index (BMI), socio economic factors, inhalation of second-hand smoke from cigarette-smoking family members, age and sex were considered.
  • Overall, the study found that children below five years, who had higher PM 2.5 exposure, had lower Hb levels and were more prone to becoming anaemic.
  • As per the Global Burden of Diseases report, 2019, one child dies every three minutes due to air pollution in India.