Governance & Social Justice
- Union Budget 2021 – What is Asset Reconstruction Company or Bad Bank?
- RBI’s Revised Regulatory Framework for NBFC – RBI proposed 4 Tier Structure of NBFCs
- What is Financial Inclusion? What are the last mile challenges of Financial Inclusion?
- Union Budget 2021 – Is the Government selling everything? What are privatisation plans of Government?
- Sugarcane Farmers in Uttar Pradesh – What are the problems faced by UP sugarcane farmers?
- Union Budget 2021 – Urban Mobility Policy announced by Finance Minister in Union Budget 2021
- India’s first Geothermal Energy Project in Ladakh – ONGC signs MoU with Ladakh Government
- Four Day Work Week Model proposed by Centre – What are the terms & conditions for 4 Day Work Week?
- Liberalisation, Privatisation,and Globalisation – 30 years of LPG reforms – How India has changed?
- Boeing 777 Grounding explained – Pratt and Whitney engine failure incidents – Impact on Air India?
- Union Budget 2021 – Know about 5 Major Problems in Union Budget 2021
Defence & Security
Science & Technology
- Google and Facebook vs Australia – Government wants tech giants to pay News Outlets for content
- Bitcoin price hits all time high – Elon Musk’s Tesla invests $1.5 billion in digital currency
- Genetically Modified Crop explained – What are the PROS & CONS of GM Crop
- Role of Technology in Law Enforcement – How technology is a force multiplier for Law Enforcement?
- What is Hydrogen Economy? How India is planning to run cars on hydrogen?
- Solid Waste Management – Types, Methods, Challenges & Solutions for Solid Waste Management
- Status of Climate Finance in 2020 – Why 2020 is declared as Year of Green Wave
- What is Green Tax and New Scrappage Policy? How they complement each other? Will they succeed?
- What is Land Degradation? Causes & effects of Land Degradation – Sustainable management of Land
- Vulture Conservation in India – Causes and consequences of decline in Vulture population
- What is Ozone Depletion? Facts, causes and effects of Ozone Depletion explained
- What is Eutrophication? Types, Causes and Effects of Eutrophication explained
Prelims Bits (4th Week)
Environment and Ecology:
What is Biomagnification? Difference in Biomagnification, Bioaccumulation & Bioconcentration
- Context: Biomagnification or biological magnification is the process of accumulation of certain chemicals in living organisms to a concentration higher than that occurring in the inorganic, non-living environment.
- About: Bioaccumulation occurs within a trophic level, and is the increase in the concentration of a substance in certain tissues of organisms’ bodies due to absorption from food and the environment.
- Bioconcentration is defined as occurring when uptake from the water is greater than excretion
- Biomagnification: The process of a buildup of certain chemical substances or toxins at the higher trophic levels of a food chain is termed as Biomagnification. This is also referred to as biological magnification.
- The chemical substances include certain toxins, heavy metals, mercury and other harmful products at a higher concentration.
- As these substances increase and accumulate, it moves up in a food chain. When these contaminated substances are consumed by different levels of organisms in a food chain, it results in severe health hazards
National Marine Turtle Action Plan explained – Facts about 5 turtle species found in coastal India
- Context: The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has released ‘Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines’ and ‘National Marine Turtle Action Plan’.
- About: The project contains ways and means to not only promote intersectoral action for conservation but also guide improved coordination amongst the government, civil society and all relevant stakeholders.
- It highlights actions to be taken for handling stranded animals on the shore, stranded or entangled animals in the sea or on a boat, reducing threats to marine species and their habitats, rehabilitation, etc.
- Sea turtles occupy a unique position within the food web. They consume an assortment of prey, including puffer fish, crustaceans, sponges, tunicates, sea grasses, and algae.
- The unusual life cycle of the animal plays a vital role in transportation of nutrients from the highly productive marine habitats such as sea-grass beds to energy-poor habitats like sandy beaches.
- The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
- They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada.
- The species is listed in Appendix 1 in CITES, and Schedule 1 in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Green turtles are also included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) appendix 1.
Kiran Bedi removed as Puducherry Lieutenant Governor – Congress government lost the majority in UT
- Context: Congress govt in minority in Puducherry Kiran Bedi removed as LG
- About: The Congress-led government in the Union Territory of Puducherry Tuesday saw its strength in the assembly fall below the halfway mark, as an MLA quit the party a day ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit for the assembly elections campaign.
- Kamaraj Nagar MLA John Kumar is the fourth Congress leader to resign in the past few weeks.
- A Congress MLA in Puducherry said Rao’s move had caught them off-guard but they weren’t “entirely surprised by the resignations”.
- “These people may have been wanting to quit for some time now and now wanted to save themselves the embarrassment of participating in Rahul’s campaign drive and quitting after that.”
- Most of the other resignations, the MLA added, were “driven by ambition
- Kiran Bedi was removed as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry on Tuesday night amid a political turmoil in the Union territory following the resignation of Congress MLAs from the V Narayanasamy government.
- Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan was given additional charge as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.
- Not So Good Relations
- Hours after the President of India removed Kiran Bedi as the Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Chief Minister Velu Narayanasamy said the move came as a “victory” for the people of the Union Territory.
- He further accused the former L-G of running a “parallel government” in Puducherry.
Initial Public Offering norms relaxed by SEBI – How LIC will benefit out of it?
- Context: Decks are being cleared systematically for the mega listing of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), India’s largest financial institution with assets of over Rs 32 lakh crore.
- About: While the government is clearing the hurdles before the IPO, one after another, market regulator Sebi has relaxed the norms to make the listing process easier and smooth.
- Currently, issuers with a post-issue market capitalisation of Rs 4,000 crore are required to offer, at least 10% of the post-issue capital to the public and achieve a minimum public holding of 25% within three years.
- Sebi has now said the issuer with a post-issue market capitalisation needs to make an offer of Rs 10,000 crore and 5% of the incremental amount beyond the Rs one lakh crore. The size will ultimately depend on the valuation.
- The post issue market capitalisation is likely to be around Rs 10 lakh crore on a conservative estimate.
- It can go up to Rs 15 lakh crore once the embedded valuation is known.
- As per the new Sebi rule, on a Rs 10 lakh crore market capitalisation yardstick, LIC will have to make an issue of Rs 55,000 crore (Rs 10,000 crore + 5% of Rs 9 lakh crore).
- If the market capitalisation is expected to be Rs 15 lakh crore, the IPO size would become Rs 80,000 crore.
- If it’s Rs 8 lakh crore, the IPO size would be Rs 45,000 crore. Still, LIC IPO will be the largest to hit the Indian capital market.
- Issuers would be required to achieve at least 10% public shareholding in two years – and 25% within five years from the date of listing.
- The IPO is expected to hit the market in the third quarter. The economy is on the comeback trail and the stock markets are also buoyant, making things easier for the LIC IPO.
- The government has already announced that up to 10% of the IPO issue size would be reserved for its policyholders.
- As LIC currently services almost 30 crore policies across the country, it’s expected to be a smooth sailing for the IPO.
- The government has made the LIC Amendment Act as part of the Finance Bill, thereby bringing the required legislative amendment for launching the IPO.
- Although LIC is currently under the supervision of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority, It is governed by the LIC Act of 1956 which enables LIC to obtain a special dispensation in several areas including higher stakes in companies.
- The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which oversees the government’s equity in public sector firms,
- Has already selected actuarial firm Milliman Advisors for ascertaining the embedded value of LIC. Besides, Deloitte and SBI Caps have been appointed as pre IPO transaction advisors.
Stock Market Crash know the reasons behind it – Relation between Bond Yield & Equity Return:
- Context: Stock market is fall relation b/w bond yield & equity returns
- About: The benchmark Sensex at BSE fell by over 1,000 points or over 2% in the afternoon trading hours on Monday taking the aggregate fall over the last five trading sessions at over 2,300 points or 4.5%.
- While the Sensex fell below the 50,000 mark, the fall was not limited to Indian markets.
- Even the primary indices in leading European markets opened lower by 0.8% to 1%, as rising bond yields impacted equity investment sentiments around the world.
- The markets weakened last week in line with the rise in bond yields both in the domestic and global markets.
- While the rising bond yields globally have raised investor concerns and have acted as a trigger for fall in equity markets, many feel that a fall in markets led many investors (worried over expensive valuations) to go for profit booking, resulting in a further decline.
- The yield on a 10-year bond in India moved up from the recent low of 5.76% to 6.19% in line with the rise in US yields.
- It rose over 1% from Friday’s closing of 6.132% to 6.196% during the afternoon hours.
- Traditionally, when bond yields rise, investors start reallocating their investments away from equities and into bonds as they are much safer.
- As bond yields rise, the opportunity cost of investing in equities goes up and therefore equities become less attractive.
- Another important factor is that when the bond yields rise, it raises the cost of capital for companies which in turn compresses the valuations of their stocks.
- That is something that investors always see when RBI cuts or raises the repo rate.
- When it cuts the repo rate, it reduces the cost of borrowing for companies leading to a rise in share prices and vice-versa.
- Bond yields play a big role in FPI fund flow. Traditionally, it has been seen that when bond yields rise in the US, FPIs move out of Indian equities.
- In fact, it has also been seen that when the bond yield in India goes up, it results in capital outflows from equities and into debt.
Wastewater Management Explained – What is Bioremediation? How Biotoilet works?
- Context: Water pollution can be defined as the contamination of water bodies. Water pollution is caused when water bodies such as rivers, lakes, oceans, groundwater and aquifers get contaminated with industrial and agricultural effluents.
- About: When water gets polluted, it adversely affects all lifeforms that directly or indirectly depend on this source. The effects of water contamination can be felt for years to come.
- Wastewater (or waste water) is any water that has been contaminated by human use. Wastewater is “used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff or stormwater, and any sewer inflow or sewer infiltration
- Therefore, wastewater is a byproduct of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities. The characteristics of wastewater vary depending on the source.
- Types of wastewater include: domestic wastewater from households, municipal wastewater from communities (also called sewage) and industrial wastewater. Wastewater can contain physical, chemical and biological pollutants.
- India generates a staggering 1.7 million tonnes of faecal waste a day. Official figures show that 78% of the sewage generated remains untreated and is disposed of in rivers, groundwater or lakes.
- The two main sources of water contamination are sewage and industrial waste. With both the population of India and its industrial landscape increasing at a phenomenal speed, wastewater volume is also at an alarming rise.
- Adding to this is the shrinking of freshwater sources like rivers, wells, and groundwater.
Science and Technology:
NASA Perseverance Rover lands on Mars successfully – Facts about Mars Perseverance Rover:
- Context: Nasa’s Perseverance rover makes historic landing on Mars
- About: NASA’s science rover Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world, Streaked through the Martian atmosphere and landed safely on the floor of a vast crater, its first stop on a search for traces of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet
- Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles burst into applause and cheers, as radio signals confirmed that the six-wheeled rover had survived its perilous descent and arrived within its target zone inside Jezero Crater, site of a long-vanished Martian lake bed.
- The robotic vehicle sailed through space for nearly seven months, covering 293 million miles (472 million km) Before piercing the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 miles per hour (19,000 km per hour) to begin its approach to touchdown on the planet’s surface.
- The landing marks the third visit to Mars in just over a week.
- Two spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates and China swung into orbit around Mars on successive days last week.
- NASA’s Perseverance rove becomes the fifth NASA rover ever to touch down on Mars after Sojourner — twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity and Curiosity.
- Scientists believe that if life ever flourished on Mars, it would have happened 3 billion to 4 billion years ago, when water still flowed on the planet.
- The primary objective of Perseverance’s two-year, $2.7 billion endeavor is to search for signs of microbes
- That may have flourished on Mars some 3 billion years ago, about the time life was emerging on Earth.
Chennai Vladivostok Maritime Corridor – Indian foreign secretary visits Moscow
- Context: Reviving the proposed Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor and finding ways to increase bilateral trade, which is currently worth $10-11 billion, was among the key points on the agenda when foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Russia
- About: Was among the key points on the agenda when foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Russia this week.
- Shringla was on an official visit to Moscow from 17 to 18 February for the India-Russia Foreign Office Consultations.
- In an interview to Russian newspaper Kommersant, Shringla said India and Russia are looking at substantial investments in each other’s energy sectors, including looking at new opportunities for supply of Russian Coking Coal for Indian steel sector.
- “We are also looking forward to major substantial Russian investments in the Make-in-India projects in India including in defence, railways, inland waterways, highways and petrochemical sector
- According to the website of the Indian embassy in Russia, the total bilateral trade between the two countries from January September 2019 stood at $7.55 billion.
- “Intensifying the trade and economic relations has been identified as a priority area by the leaders on both sides as is clear by the revised targets of increasing bilateral investment to $50 billion and bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025,“it noted.
Air to Air Missile Astra Mk II – India to test fire Beyond Visual Range Astra Mk II missile
- Context: Astra is an all weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
- About: It is the first air-to-air missile developed by India. Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets at a distance of 10 km (6.2 mi) and long-range targets up to a distance of 110 km (68 mi).
- Astra has been integrated with Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI and will be integrated with Dassault Mirage 2000, HAL Tejas and Mikoyan MiG-29 in the future.
- Astra Mark 1 with imaging infrared homing for shorter range up to 80 km (50 mi).
- Astra Mark 2 with larger engagement envelope and a range of 160 km.
- Astra Mark 3 will use newly developed solid fuel ducted ramjet technology with a maximum range of 350 km (220 mi) equivalent to Meteor missile.
- India’s latest Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile Astra Mk II is all set to move out of the drawing board as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is likely to conduct its first developmental trial this week.
- Defence sources said the indigenously developed missile will be flight tested from a ground launcher being set up at launching complex III of Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha coast
What is Ocean Noise? Impact of Oceanic Noise Pollution on Marine Ecosystem explained
- Context: Scientists have been aware of underwater anthropogenic noise, and how far it propagates, for around a century. But early research on how noise might affect marine life focused on how individual large animals responded to temporary noise sources, such as a whale taking a detour around oil rigs during its migration.
- About: The new study maps out how underwater noise affects countless groups of marine life, including zooplankton and jellyfish. Duarte wanted to bring together the various corners to synthesize all the evidence they had gathered into a single conversation; maybe something this grand would finally result in policy changes.
- Humans — and their ships, seismic surveys, air guns, pile drivers, dynamite fishing, drilling platforms, speedboats and even surfing —have made the ocean an unbearably noisy place for marine life, according to a sweeping review of the prevalence and intensity of the impacts of anthropogenic ocean noise published in the journal Science.
- The paper, a collaboration among 25 authors from across the globe and various fields of marine acoustics, is the largest synthesis of evidence on the effects of oceanic noise pollution.
- If the noise settles in more permanently, some animals simply leave for good. These forced evacuations reduce population sizes as more animals give up territory and compete for the same pools of resources.
- And certain species that are bound to limited biogeographic ranges, such as the endangered Maui dolphin, have nowhere else to go.
Government scheme and Initiative:
SANDES App launched by Indian Government – Made in India rival of WhatsApp – Know all about Sandes:
- Context: The National Informatics Centre has launched an instant messaging platform called Sandes on the lines of WhatsApp
- About: Like WhatsApp, the new NIC platform can be used for all kinds of communications by anyone with a mobile number or email id.
- The National Informatics Centre, a branch under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology handles the backend of the Sandes Application.
- Following the nationwide lockdown imposed in March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19, the government felt the need to build a platform to ensure secure communication between its employees as they worked from home
- After security scares, the Ministry of Home Affairs had in April last year issued an advisory to all government employees to avoid using platforms like Zoom for official communication.
- This was after the Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In) had also posted an advisory against Zoom over safety and privacy concerns.
- The idea for a secure communication network dedicated exclusively to government employees has been in the works for the past four years.
- The execution of the idea was accelerated during the last year, according to officials.
- In August 2020, the NIC released the first version of the app, which said that the app could be used by both central and state government officials “for intra and inter organisation communication.”
- The app was initially launched for Android users and then the service was extended to iOS users.
- The launch of the app is also a part of the government strategy to push for use of India-made software so as to build an ecosystem of indigenously developed products.
- Open initially only to government officers, it will soon be released for the common public as well.
- The limitation, however, is that the app does not allow the user to change their email id or registered phone number.
- The user will have to re-register as a new user in case they wish to change their registered email id or phone number on the app.
India’s first CNG tractor launched by Nitin Gadkari – Steps taken by GoI to promote Clean Fuel:
- Context: Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari launched India’s first-ever diesel tractor, converted to a much cleaner (compressed natural gas) CNG variant.
- About: The CNG tractor is owned by Gadkari only.
- The Minister informed that it is his diesel tractor, which he had bought in 2012, and it has been converted to a CNG tractor jointly by Rawmatt Techno Solutions and Tomasetto Achille India.
- The CNG tractor has been launched after six months of trial-run
- CNG is a clean fuel as it has the lowest content of carbon and other pollutants, while also being economical.
- It has zero lead and is non-corrosive, non-dilutive and non-contaminating which helps in increasing the life of the engine and it requires less regular maintenance.
- has been trying to promote clean fuel for transportation as well as other alternatives such as electric mobility as one of its ways to reduce pollution and cut fuel import bill.