Current Affairs Apr 14

Raisina Dialogue

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister delivered a video address at the Inaugural Session of the Raisina Dialogue in virtual format, along with Chief Guests H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and H.E. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark.
  • The 6th Edition of the prestigious Raisina Dialogue, jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation,will be held virtually from 13-16 April, 2021. The theme for the 2021 Edition is “#ViralWorld: Outbreaks, Outliers and Out of Control”.


  • The Raisina Dialogue is India’s premier conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community.
  • Every year, leaders in politics, business, media, and civil society converge in New Delhi to discuss the state of the world and explore opportunities for cooperation on a wide range of contemporary matters.
  • The Dialogue is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross sectoral discussion, involving heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government offcials, who are joined by thought leaders from the private sector, media and academia.
  • The conference is hosted by the Observer Research Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. This effort is supported by a number of institutions, organisations and individuals, who are committed to the mission of the conference.




Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister has paid tribute to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

102 Years of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre:

  • April 13 marks the day of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, and this is the 102nd anniversary of the incident.
  • Jallianwala Bagh Massacre refers to the incident that took place in 1919 at Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh, in which British troops opened fire against thousands of people who had gathered to mark the occasion of Baisakhi.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: The events that led up to it

  • After the first World War ended in 1919, Indian leaders believed that the leaders of the country would now be allowed to self-govern.
  • To the contrary, the colonial rulers imposed the Rowlatt Act on March 10, 1919, as per which the government could imprison or confine any person who was associated with any seditious activity without any trial.
  • The passing of this Act led to widespread protests across the country, with Mahatma Gandhi initiating a Satyagraha to oppose the Act.
  • Soon after, the British authorities banned Gandhi from entering Punjab, threatening to arrest him if he disobeyed.
  • However, on the other hand, the British authorities arrested on April 9, 1919, Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr Satyapal, who were two prominent leaders and had organised a peaceful protest against the Act in Amritsar.
  • On the next day, infuriated groups of people went to the Deputy Commissioner’s residence where they demanded that the two leaders be freed. However, here, they were fired upon, and several people died.
  • Post this, the Indian protestors began to retaliate with lathis and stones, attacking any Europeans they saw.

Jallianwala Bagh shootout: What had happened

  • The British authorities in Punjab were trying to suppress all opposition against this Act. Amid this, Brigadier-General Dyer issued orders prohibiting unlawful assembly of people.
  • On April 13, 1919, however, people gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi, but the British authorities saw this as a political gathering.
  • At the Jallianwala Bagh, the gathered people were to discuss two resolutions – one that would condemn the firing that took place on April 10, and the other that would request authorities to free the imprisoned leaders.
  • However, when General Dyer heard of the assembly of people, he headed to the location with his troops and ordered them to open fire. As per records, the gathered people were not given any warning.
  • The Jallianwala Bagh only has one exit, and General Dyer ordered his troops to block it, effectively trapping all the people, including women and children, at the Bagh itself.
  • A total of 1,650 rounds were fired over 10 to 15 minutes, and the firing ended when the troops ran out of ammunition. While the British authorities placed the number of people who died during the massacre as 291, a report by Madan Mohan Malviya, and numerous others, put this figure to be over 500.
  • The troops retreated from the location as soon as the firing ended, leaving the dead and the wounded untended, something that General Dyer also admitted, unapologetically, in his interrogation by the Hunter Commission.
  • General Dyer’s action was praised by Punjab Lieutenant Governor Sir Michael O’ Dwyer.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: The aftermath

  • As news about the massacre spread across the country, people across the country became outraged, and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood.
  • Soon after, Mahatma Gandhi also launched a large-scale satyagraha, the non-cooperation movement, which made him prominent in the freedom struggle.
  • While Sir Winston Churchill, who was then Secretary of War, condemned General Dyer’s action in the House of Commons in 1920, Dyer was praised by the House of Lords, which gave him a sword which had the motto ‘Saviour of the Punjab’.
  • Since Dyer was told to resign from the military after the Hunter Commission censured his actions, a large number of sympathisers of Dyer raised a huge fund and presented it to him.

Financial Express




Why in News?

  • Ministry of Commerce & Industry inaugurated e-SANTA, an electronic marketplace providing a platform to connect aqua farmers and the buyers.
  • It will enable the farmers to get a better price and the exporters to directly purchase quality products from the farmers enhancing traceability, a key factor in international trade.
  • The term e-SANTA was coined for the web portal, meaning Electronic Solution for Augmenting NaCSA farmers’ Trade in Aquaculture.
  • National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA) is an extension arm of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Govt. of India, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

e-SANTA will RAISE the lives & income of farmers by:

  • Reducing Risk
  • Awareness of Products & Markets
  • Increase in Income
  • Shielding Against Wrong Practice
  • Ease of Processes


  • e-SANTA is a completely paperless and end-to-end electronic trade platform between Farmers and exporters.
  • The farmers have the freedom to list their produce and quote their price while the exporters have the freedom to list their requirements and also to choose the products based on their requirements such as desired size, location, harvest dates etc.
  • This enables the farmers and buyers to have greater control over the trade and enables them to make informed decisions.
  • After crop listing and online negotiation, a deal is struck, advance payment is made and an estimated invoice is generated.
  • Once the harvest date is fixed, the buyer goes to the farm gate and the produce is harvested in his presence.
  • Once the harvest is completed, the final count, quantity of material is verified, the final amount is decided and delivery challan is issued.




Indian Standards are now available Free of Cost

Why in News?

  • Director General, Bureau of Indian Standards said that the services of BIS standards are now available free of cost for everyone.
  • BIS have nearly 21000 Indian Standards.
  • The objective is to ensure genius standard for every product relevant for the national economy and consumers.
  • For the benefit of industry, particularly the MSME sector, Indian Standards are now available free of cost, and can be downloaded from the Standardization Portal of e-BIS.
  • The Scheme of One Nation One Standard has been launched to harmonize the standard formulation work happening in various organizations.

Government to tighten noose on toy sellers

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national standards body, is set to penalise toy sellers selling low-quality toys. The government has made quality certification mandatory for toys from January this year to prevent the sale of low-cost toys which are hazardous to health.

Hallmarking of gold jewellery to be mandatory from June 1

  • Hallmarking for gold jewellery started in April 2000 as a voluntary scheme; around 40% of gold jewellery sold in the country is being hallmarked at present.
  • In November 2019, the Centre had notified that hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts would be made mandatory across the country from January 15, 2021.
  • The deadline was extended till June 1 after jewellers sought time in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • India is the largest importer of gold, mainly owing to the demand of the jewellery industry which imports 700-800 tonne annually.
  • Mandatory hallmarking will mean that jewellers will be able to sell hallmark certified 14-, 18- or 22-carat gold jewellery, while there is no such rule now.
  • According to BIS officials, the mandatory hallmarking will protect the public against lower caratage and ensure consumers are not cheated and get the purity as marked on the ornaments.

New BIS license: Govt announces 50% rebate for start-ups, others

  • The government slashed the annual marking fee to get a new BIS license and certification by 50 per cent for micro-industry, startups and women entrepreneurs.
  • The government has given 50 per cent rebate on (new) BIS certification of products for start-up, micro-industry and women entrepreneurs.
  • An additional 10 per cent rebate has been given to the existing licence holders, which will give a boost to the government ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign.




‘Infant Toddler and Caregiver-friendly Neighbourhoods (ITCN) Training and Capacity Building Programme’

Why in News?

  • The ‘Infant Toddler and Caregiver-friendly Neighbourhoods (ITCN) Training and Capacity Building Programme’ was launched by National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) in partnership with Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF).
  • The Programme is designed to help build capacities of city officials and young professionals for developing young children and family-friendly neighbourhoods within cities in India.
  • The programme is a continuation of the long-term partnership between NIUA and BvLF to scale up the efforts and embed the lessons of ITC needs at neighbourhood level within the city level programmes.
  • Under the programme, city officials and young professionals are proposed to be skilled through certified training and capacity building modules.
  • The programme is envisioned with the twin objectives:
      • First, embedding the learnings from the inventory of knowledge developed by NIUA and BvLF within the on-going and proposed urban development initiatives at neighbourhood and city level; and
      • Second, handholding participants to embed learnings into the various initiatives of the cities which take into account the everyday needs of young children and caregivers.
      • In addition, an academic certified course for young professionals has been planned to sensitize them about the needs of young citizens (0-5 years) in the city and to equip them with the adequate tools for the purpose.

About NIUA

  • Established in 1976, the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA, is a premier Institute of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India for research and capacity building for the urban sector in India.
  • The Institution has been actively working on bringing forth key areas of concern for urban India to build the urban discourse at various urban scales and committed towards aligning its efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through all its initiatives and programs.

About NULP

  • The National Urban Learning Platform (NULP) is envisioned as a means of digitally consolidating key skills and knowledge required by urban stakeholders and making these available to all actors on a channel of their choice.
  • The NULP will include tools to enable and streamline content creation, content organisation and management, course building, course management, assessment and certification.




 Network Survey Vehicle (NSV)

Why in News?

  • In line with its commitment to provide better roads to commuters, NHAI has decided to deploy Network Survey Vehicle (NSV) to enhance quality of the National Highways.
  • Carrying out road condition survey using NSV on the National Highways has been made mandatory at the time of certifying completion of the project and every six months thereafter.
  • The deployment will help in enhancing the overall quality of the highways as NSV uses the latest survey techniques such as high-resolution digital camera for 3600 imagery, Record images/videos at regular intervals, Laser Road Profilometer and other related technology for measurement of distresses in road surface.




Farthest Gamma-ray Emitting Active Galaxy

Why in News?

  • Astronomers have discovered a new active galaxy identified as the farthest gamma-ray emitting galaxy that has so far been stumbled upon.
  • This active galaxy called the Narrow-Line Seyfert 1 (NLS1) galaxy, which is about 31 billion light-years away, opens up avenues to explore more such gamma-ray emitting galaxies that wait to meet us.
  • Ever since 1929, when Edwin Hubble discovered that the Universe is expanding, it has been known that most other galaxies are moving away from us.
  • Light from these galaxies is shifted to longer (and this means redder) wavelengths – in other words, it is red-shifted. Scientists have been trying to trace such red-shifted galaxies to understand the early Universe.
  • Scientists from ARIES in collaboration with researchers from other institutions, studied around 25,000 luminous Active galactic nuclei (AGN) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a major optical imaging and spectroscopic survey of astronomical objects in-operation for the last 20 years and found a unique object that emits high-energy gamma rays located at a high redshift (more than 1).
  • They identified it as a gamma-ray emitting NLS1 galaxy, which is a rare entity in space.
  • Powerful relativistic jets, or sources of particles in the Universe traveling nearly at speed to light, are usually produced by AGN powered by large black holes and hosted in a giant elliptical galaxy.
  • However, detection of gamma-ray emission from NLS1 challenges the idea of how relativistic jets are formed because NLS1s are a unique class of AGN that are powered by black hole of low mass and hosted in spiral galaxy.
  • As of today, gamma-ray emission has been detected in about a dozen NLS1 galaxies, which are a separate class of AGN identified four decades ago.
  • All of them are at redshifts lesser than one, and no method was present till date to find NLS1 at redshifts larger than one. This discovery opens up a new way to find gamma-ray emitting NLS1 galaxies in the early Universe.
  • For the research, the scientists used one of the largest ground-based telescopes in the world, the 8.2 m Subaru Telescope located at Hawaii, USA.
  • They helped establish a new method to find high redshift NLS1 galaxies that were not known previously by comparing different emission lines in their spectra.
  • The new gamma-ray emitting NLS1 was formed when the Universe was only about 4.7 billion years old as compared to its current age of about 13.8 billion years.




mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine – HGCO19

Why in News?

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology has announced that it has approved additional funding towards clinical studies of India’s first of its kind’ mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine – HGCO19, developed by Pune-based biotechnology company Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd.
  • This funding has been awarded under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha- The Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission’ by DBT’s dedicated Mission Implementation Unit at Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) after multiple rounds of evaluation of all the applications that were submitted in response to the ‘Request for Expression of Interest (REOI)’under Mission COVID Suraksha for the ‘Development of COVID-19 vaccine candidate(s)’.


  • HGCO19 has already demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralization antibody activity in the rodent and non-human primate models.
  • The neutralizing antibody response of the vaccine in mice and non-human primates was comparable with the sera from the convalescent patients of COVID-19.

About mRNA Vaccines

  • mRNA vaccines are considered safe as mRNA is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms.
  • They are highly efficacious because of their inherent capability of being translatable into the protein structure inside the cell cytoplasm.
  • Additionally, mRNA vaccines are fully synthetic and do not require a host for growth, e.g., eggs or bacteria.
  • Therefore, they can be quickly manufactured inexpensively under cGMP conditions to ensure their “availability” and “accessibility” for mass vaccination on a sustainable basis.

About DBT

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science & Technology, promotes and accelerates the development of biotechnology in India, including growth and application of biotechnology in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, animal sciences, environment, and industry.

About BIRAC:

  • Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.

About Gennova

  • Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd., headquartered in Pune, India, is a biotechnology company dedicated to the research, development, production, and commercialization of biotherapeutics to address life-threatening diseases across various indications.




Oscar-winning producer Guneet Monga

Why in News?

  • Oscar-winning producer Guneet Monga, known for backing films like “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan”, was awarded with the second highest civilian French honour by French Foreign Minister.
  • Monga was given the honour of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters at the Residence of France for her contribution to world cinema through her Indo-French productions and “her relentless work towards women empowerment”.

About Award

  • Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France rewards contributors across the globe under three categories- Commandeur, Officier and Chevalier.
  • Earlier, prominent names like Hollywood star Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis have been felicitated with the Commandeur title while superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan have won the Officier title.
  • Pop star Shakira, South star Kamal Hassan and actor-filmmaker Nandita Das are the previous awardees of Chevalier title.




Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV2020)

Why in News?

  • The ambitious Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV2020) came to a close recently with the release of two rhinos — an adult male and a female — in Assam’s Manas National Park transported from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary about 185 km to the east.


  • Designed in 2005, the IRV2020 is believed to have achieved its target of attaining a population of 3,000 rhinos in Assam.
  • But the plan to spread the Rhinoceros unicornis across four protected areas beyond Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park and Pobitora could not materialise.
  • The ears of the translocated rhinos have been notched according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission and Asian Rhino Specialist Group’s guidelines for identification and monitoring.

Saviour of Manas

  • Assam had at least five rhino-bearing areas till the 1980s. Better conservation efforts helped maintain the population of the one-horned herbivore in Kaziranga, Orang and Pobitora, but encroachment and poaching wiped the animal out of Manas and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The lesser-known Laokhowa slipped under the radar of international watchdogs. Manas, in focus for the near-extinction of the pygmy hog, lost the World Heritage Site tag it received in 1985 along with Kaziranga from the UNESCO.
  • The translocated rhinos helped Manas National Park get back its World Heritage Site status in 2011.




Pregnancy Law Amendment

  • The passing of amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in India recently is a step forward in recognising the rights of women, but is no giant leap.
  • It does push the envelope way past how far the now antediluvian MTP Act of 1971 went, primarily by allowing the termination of pregnancy beyond 24 weeks if there are foetal anomalies.
  • However, it also sets the decision on the shoulders of a medical board formed by State governments for this specific purpose.
  • The amended Act also allows the termination of pregnancy until 20 weeks based on the opinion of one qualified doctor, an improvement from the consensus between the two doctors clause that was previously required.
  • As per the amendment, unmarried women can also terminate their pregnancy, and by replacing the word ‘husband’ with the word ‘partner’, it, for the first time, takes the dialogue outside the confines of marital relationships that it was trapped in, legally.
  • But this law stops short of reimagining an issue at the heart of any debate on abortions — a woman’s agency over reproduction.
  • The key dramatis personae in a decision to keep or abort a foetus are essentially the woman and her gynaecologist; instead, the law envisages the decision to be made by a board of specialists if an abortion is required after 24 weeks.
  • Among the reasons why the amendments were pushed was the laborious process a woman had to undergo in order to get an abortion, sometimes resolved by courts, but often frustrating and leading them to seek solutions surreptitiously, risking their life.
  • This is retrograde, even positioned against a global trend — the laws in over 60 countries allow women to get an abortion on request at any point in the gestation.
  • While old laws sought to protect the life of a woman on the grounds that medical procedures would be unsafe for the mother after a certain gestational limit — usually 12 weeks — medical capability is no longer a limit.
  • Experts swear medical technology has advanced sufficiently to allow safe abortions in secure health-care settings at very advanced stages of the pregnancy too.




WHO urges halt on sale of live wild mammals in markets

  • The World Health Organization called for a halt to the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to prevent the emergence of new diseases such as COVID-19.
  • Because traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations, banning the sale of live wild mammals could protect the health of market workers and customers alike.
  • The call came in fresh guidance drawn up by the WHO in conjunction with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Animals, particularly wild animals, are the source of more than 70% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans, many of which are caused by novel viruses.
  • Wild mammals, in particular, pose a risk for the emergence of new diseases.




Tripura’s Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC)

Why in News?

  • Recent elections in Tripura’s Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).

What is TTAADC

  • Formed on January 18, 1982, TTADC governs areas that enjoy a set of protective constitutional safeguards for people from 19 tribal communities.
  • These include statutory protection of tribal land. One third of the state’s population lives here, a large majority of them still depending on slash-and-burn cultivation and traditional livelihood for sustenance.
  • The TTADC has 30 seats, of which 28 are elected.



Rajya Sabha poll before Kerala Assembly results

Why in News?

  • The Kerala High Court has directed the Election Commission (EC) to hold elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from the state before the term of the current Assembly ends.
  • The EC, which had earlier paused the election, has now said the vote would take place on April 30. Counting of votes for the recent Assembly elections will take place on May 2.

On what legal principles did the court base its order?

  • Referring to provisions in the Representation of People’s Act, read with provisions in Article 80 (4) of the Constitution, the court said: “… the intention is not to keep the seats unfilled but to complete the process of election before the retirement of the members, so as to have the full strength of members in the Upper House to represent the State. A different view is warranted only when there is any law-and-order situation or any practical impossibility. The power to amend or extend the schedule is not to be invoked normally. Such circumstances are not available in the present case.”
  • The court ruled: “… the Commission, which is fully aware of its duty conferred under Article 324 of the Constitution of India in its true spirit, has therefore to expedite the proceedings so as to see that the representation in the Upper House from Kerala is always in full swing and to avoid situations as pointed out by the petitioners, where the nomination is made by the existing Assembly and voting by another Assembly. It is seen that at least after the EC arrived at the decision that it is its duty to see that the vacancies are filled up at the earliest, the Commission is yet to take any steps for the same.’’
  • Under Article 324 of the Constitution, deciding the calendar of an election is the exclusive domain of the EC and can’t be subject to any law framed by the Parliament. Once a schedule is announced, courts do not have the jurisdiction to make changes to it. However, the EC’s powers are not unbridled. In 1993, the Supreme Court had ruled that EC’s power is “judicially reviewable. ” and the review can be done depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.




Currency Chest

Why in News?

  • The theft to the tune of Rs 4.04 crore by a private security guard from the currency chest of Axis Bank in Chandigarh’s has put the affairs of currency chests in the spotlight. It is for the first time in Chandigarh when such a huge amount was stolen from inside a bank.

What is currency chest? Which authority monitors it?

  • Currency chest is a place where the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stocks the money meant for banks and ATMs.
  • These chests are usually situated on the premises of different banks but administrated by the RBI.
  • Representatives of the RBI inspect currency chests time-to-time, and update their senior officers about it.
  • The money present in the currency chest belongs to the RBI and the money, kept in the strong room outside the currency chest belongs to the bank.

How is the loss recovered in case of a crime resulting in loss of cash?

  • As per the set guidelines, the bank, in which the currency chest is situated is liable to fulfill the loss of the currency chest.
  • In the present case, Axis Bank will have to fulfill the loss from its account.
  • There are certain categories of the loss.
  • But in the cases of thefts, robberies and fraud from the currency chests situated within the bank premises, the bank is considered to be responsible.