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Prelims bits

Prelims bits: Jan 2019

Polity  &  Governance : 

Corruption Perception Index 2018

  • Corruption Perception Index 2018 has been released.
  • The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.
  • It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
  • Denmark is the world least corrupt country scoring 88 out of 100 points. Denmark is followed by New Zealand and Finland.
  • Somalia has been ranked last with a score of 10 behind South Sudan and Syria.

Niti Aayog 2.0

  • In a paper titled ‘Towards India’s New Fiscal Federalism’, former Finance Commission chairman Vijay Kelkar has pitched for setting up of a ‘new Niti Aayog’ and giving it responsibility for allocating capital and revenue grants to the states.
  • Few suggestions related to composition and functions of the revamped Niti Aayog:
  • It will be responsible for allocating development or transformational capital or revenue grants to the states.
  • In order to make the new Niti Aayog more effective, it is essential to ensure that the institution is at the ‘High Table’ of decision making of the government. This means the vice-chairman of the new Niti Aayog will need to be a permanent invitee of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
  • It need not be involved with the approval of the state’s annual expenditure programmes. It should rather strive to be a think-tank with ‘praxis’ possessing considerable financial muscle and devote its energies to outline coherent medium and long term strategy and corresponding investment resources for transforming India.

Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS)

  • The government has unveiled new guidelines for Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS) aligning them to the National Skills Qualification Framework with an aim to providing standardised training across sectors.
  • About Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS): Formerly under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Jan Shikshan Sansthan was transferred to the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship in 2018.
  • Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS) were established to provide vocational training to non-literate, neo-literate, as well as school dropouts by identifying skills as would have a market in the region of their establishment.

9th National Voters’ Day:

  • India is celebrating the 9th National Voters’ Day (NVD) on 25th January 2019.
  • Theme: ‘No Voter to be Left Behind’.
  • About National Voters Day:
  • The National Voters’ Day (NVD) is celebrated all over the country on January 25 every year since 2011 to mark the Foundation day of Election Commission of India, which was established on 25th January 1950.
  • The main purpose of the NVD celebration is to encourage, facilitate and maximize the enrollment, especially for the new voters.

Shehri Samridhi Utsav:

  • It is an event which aims to expand the outreach of National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) to the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable, showcase its initiatives and facilitate access of SHG members to the other government schemes.
  • This is organized by Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Saksham 2019

Saksham (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav) is an annual flagship event of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India.

Economy :

Atal Setu of Goa:

  • Atal Setu” on the Mandovi river in Goa has been inaugurated.
  • Features of the bridge: It is 5.1-km long cable-stayed bridge connecting state capital Panaji with north Goa. The bridge is constructed by the GIDC (Goa Infrastructure Development Corporation) in collaboration with construction major Larsen and Toubro.

Project ReWeave

  • Microsoft India has launched a new e-commerce platform ‘’ under project ReWeave to help handloom weavers.
  • About Project ReWeave:
  • Initiated by Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt. Limited in 2016 as part of its Philanthropies efforts.
  • Aim: To revive the handloom weaving ecosystem in India.
  • Significance of the e-commerce platform:
  • Connect artisans to the buyers directly enabling them to expand to newer customers and markets.
  • Provide a platform to showcase signature collections created by the weaver communities, showcase traditional designs and products created from natural dyes to a broad set of customers.

Flamingo Festival at Pulicat lake:

  • Flamingo Festival is held every year to promote tourism in Pulicat and Nellapattu. Flamingo Festival is being organised for the past 12 years.

Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC):

  • Why in News? Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC).
  • About SFAC:
  • The Government established Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) as a Society in January 1994 to facilitate agri-business ventures by catalysing private investment through Venture Capital Assistance (VCA) Scheme in close association with financial institutions. The role of State SFACs is to aggressively promote agribusiness project development in their respective States.

Partnership Summit

  • The 25th edition of the Partnership Summit will be held in Mumbai.
  • It is being organized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, State Government of Maharashtra and Confederation of Indian Industry.

Indus Food 2019:

  • INDUS FOOD-II will be held on 14th and 15th January, 2019, at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida.
  • Theme: ‘World Food Supermarket’.

Nilekani Panel to strengthen the Digital Payments Ecosystem:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a high-level committee under Nandan Nilekani to suggest measures to strengthen the safety and security of digital payments in the country.

Society & Human Development :

Nari Shakti: Hindi Word of the Year 2018:

  • The word Nari Shakti is chosen as the word of the Year 2018 by the Oxford dictionaries.
  • Why was Nari Shakti chosen?
  • Large spike in the use of word Nari Shakti in March 2018 around the Government of India’s Nari Shakti Puraskar.
  • Supreme Court also upheld Nari Shakti’s prominence in 2018 with its two important decisions. One was a ban on ‘triple-talaq’ and second, the taking down of a rule that disallowed menstrual women entry to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

Womaniya on GeM

  • It is an initiative launched by the Government eMarketplace (GeM) to enable women entrepreneurs and self-help groups to sell different products at the platform.

Web- Wonder Women Campaign

The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India has launched an online campaign Web- Wonder Women to discover and celebrate the exceptional achievements of women, who have been driving positive agenda of social change via social media

IR , Defence & Security :

Global Aviation Summit 2019:

  • Global Aviation Summit 2019 is being held in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • The theme of the Global Aviation Summit 2019 is ‘Flying for all-especially the next 6 Billion’.

IMBEX 2018-19:

  • It is India-Myanmar bilateral army exercise. IMBEX 2018-19, is being held in Haryana. It is the second edition of the IMBEX.

First female chief economist of IMF:

  • Gita Gopinath has joined International Monetary Fund as its chief economist. She is the first woman to occupy the post of chief economist of IMF. She is the 11th chief economist of the IMF.

Asia Competitiveness Institute’s (ACI) EDB index:

  • Asia Competitiveness Institute’s (ACI) has released its Ease of Doing Business Index on Attractiveness to Investors, Business Friendliness and Competitive Policies (EDB Index ABC).
  • Performance of Indian states: Andhra Pradesh has topped the list. It is followed by Maharashtra and Delhi.

Geography, Environment & Biodiversity:

International Stock Taking Conference on Tiger Conservation

  • Recently the 3rd Stock Taking Conference on Tiger Conservation relating to Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) implementation was held in New Delhi.
  • This is the second edition to be held in India after 2012 wherein progress against resolution adopted by tiger range countries in 2010 at St. Petersburg, Russia, was measured.
  • The conference was hosted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in close collaboration with the Global Tiger Forum which is an International, Intergovernmental Organization for conserving tigers in the world.

Places in News- Mount Shindake:

  • A volcano- Mt Shindake has erupted on Kuchinoerabu Island of Japan. Kuchinoerabu Island belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The entire island lies within the borders of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park.

Sita Rama Lift Irrigation Project:

  • The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has given its approval for the Sita Rama Lift Irrigation Project of Telangana.
  • About the Project: The Sita Rama Lift Irrigation Project aims to divert Godavari river water to irrigate 2.72 lakh hectares in three districts of Telangana.

Hawaiian tree snail is the first extinction of 2019:

  • George, the last known Achatinella apexfulva- a Hawaiian tree snail, died on New Year’s Day 2019, making his species the first to be declared officially extinct in 2019

Asian Waterbird Census (AWC):

  • A waterbird survey conducted in the Upper Kuttanad region of Kerala has recorded 16,767 birds of 47 continental and local species. The survey, conducted as part of the annual Asian Waterbird Census, has spotted three new species — Greater flamingo, Grey-headed lapwing, and Blue-cheeked bee-eater.

ECO Niwas Samhita 2018

  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency and CPWD sign MoU on promoting energy efficiency in buildings.
  • According to the MoU, BEE and CPWD will cooperate on promoting designs and construction of Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) compliant new buildings, star rating of CPWD managed buildings across the country with no registration or renewal fee, awareness on energy efficiency in building sector and support for capacity building of CPWD officials in ECBC.

Science & Technology :

Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC):

  • The HSFC, the hub of ISRO’s future manned missions, was inaugurated at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.

Zearalenone in cereals:

  • While numerous studies document this toxin in cereals across the world, no data existed for India until now. This month, a Journal of Food Science study detected zearalenone in wheat, rice, corn and oats from markets in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Zearalenone is a fungal toxin infesting cereals such as wheat, maize and barley. It attacks crops while they are growing, but can also develop when cereals are stored without being dried fully.

World Malaria Report of 2018

  • As per World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report of 2018, India is the only country among the 11 highest-burden countries that saw substantial progress in reducing disease burden: it saw a 24% decrease in 2017 compared to 2016.
  • This shows that India has assumed a leadership role in advancing global efforts to end malaria. The country’s success provides hope to the other highest-burden countries to tackle malaria head-on.

Technical textiles:

  • Ministry of Textiles will hold National Conclave on Technical Textiles in Mumbai. The event will also be a curtain raiser for Techno Tex 2019.
  • What are technical textiles?
  • Technical Textiles are defined as Textile material and products manufactured primarily for their Technical performance and functional properties rather than aesthetic and decorative characteristics.
  • Technical textiles include textiles for automotive applications, medical textiles (e.g., implants), geotextiles (reinforcement of embankments), agrotextiles (textiles for crop protection), and protective clothing (e.g., heat and radiation protection for fire fighter clothing, molten metal protection for welders, stab protection and bulletproof vests, and spacesuits).

Nitrogen pollution

  • A major international research programme is being carried out to tackle the challenge that nitrogen pollution poses for environment, food security, human health and the economy in South Asia. The research programme will be carried out by South Asian Nitrogen Hub.
  • South Asian Nitrogen Hub:
  • The South Asian Nitrogen Hub, a partnership led by the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and comprising around 50 organisations from across the UK and South Asia, will be established with funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
  • The Hub is one of 12 GCRF hubs announced by the UKRI to address intractable challenges in sustainable development. The interdisciplinary hubs will work across 85 countries with governments, international agencies, partners and NGOs.
  • India is a major partner with 18 Indian institutions in this project. India is the only country in South Asia that has completed its nitrogen assessment over a year ago and is already co-leading the South Asian nitrogen assessment with CEH, UK, for the UN Environment.

Bio-Jet fuel for Military Aircraft:

  • Indigenous produced bio-fuel has been finally cleared for use by Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).
  • The bio-jet fuel has been produced from seeds of Jatropha plant sourced from Chhattisgarh and processed at CSIR-IIP’s lab at Dehradun.

106th Indian Science Congress

  • The 106th edition of the Indian Science Congress (ISC) was inaugurated at Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Phagwara, Jalandhar Punjab.
  • The theme for ISC-2019 is ‘Future India – Science and Technology’.
  • In his inaugural speech, the Prime Minister added ‘Jai Anusandhan’ to former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s famous slogan of Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Jai Vigyan to give a new slogan- Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan and Jai Anusandhan.

India’s second defence industrial corridor:

  • Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor has been inaugurated.
  • Key facts:
  • The corridor is the second defence corridor being set up by the government to support various defence manufacturing units. The first one is being established in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The corridor is also referred to as the Tamil Nadu Defence Production Quad as the nodal cities form a quadrilateral with one of them at the centre.

B.Tech course in AI by IIT Hyderabad:

  • IIT Hyderabad has announced the launch of a full-fledged bachelor’s programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. IIT Hyderabad has become the first institute in the country to launch full-fledged Bachelor’s programme in AI technology. IIT Hyderabad will be the third institute to globally to offer the B.Tech course in AI.

Lead and MSG in noodles

  • Why in news : The Supreme Court of India has lifted a stay on criminal proceedings against Nestle over the alleged presence of lead and MSG or monosodium glutamate in popular noodles.
  • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) will now go-ahead with a class action suit brought against Maggi noodle makers Nestle.
  • Effects of lead and MSG on health:
  • Lead:
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including your liver and kidneys in particular.
  • It is especially harmful to infant and pregnant women as it can cause damage to the central nervous system in children.
  • Monosodium glutamate:
  • MSG, short for Monosodium glutamate, is an amino acid found in your body and most foods. It is a flavour enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats.


Jaipur Literature Festival:

  • The historic Diggi Palace is hosting the five-day Jaipur Literature Festival.
  • About the festival:
  • The Jaipur Literature Festival is an annual literary festival which takes place in the Indian city of Jaipur each January.
  • It was founded in 2006, and from 2008 has been produced by Teamwork Arts.

National Museum of Indian Cinema in Mumbai:

  • National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC) has been inaugurated in Mumbai. The museum depicts the journey of over a century of Indian cinema in a story telling mode with the help of visuals, graphics, artifacts, interactive exhibits and multimedia expositions.

First human rights TV channel Launched:

  • The world’s first television channel dedicated to human rights has been launched in London by the International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR)

World Hindi Day 2019:

  • World Hindi Day is celebrated on January 10 every year, marking the anniversary of first World Hindi Conference which was held in 1975 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
  • World Hindi Day was first observed on January 10, 2006. Since then, it is celebrated on January 10 every year.

Makaravilakku festival season:

  • The hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa in Kerala has been opened for the 21 day-long Makaravilakku festival season, marking the concluding phase of the annual pilgrimage season.
  • About Makaravilakku festival season:
  • Makaravilakku is an annual festival held on Makar Sankranti in Kerala, at the shrine of Sabarimala. The festival includes the Thiruvabharanam (sacred ornaments of Ayyappan) procession and a congregation at the hill shrine of Sabarimala.