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Prelims bits

Prelims Bits (2nd Week)


Summer Capital of Uttarakhand GAIRSAIN gets division status – Administrative structure of Gairsain

  • Context: A year after announcing Gairsain in Chamoli district as the summer capital of Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat by declaring the town as a new administrative division of the state, a third commissionerate after Kumaon and Garhwal
  • About: Gairsain division would be comprised of four hill districts, including Almora and Bageshwar (both in Kumaon) and Rudrapyarag and Chamoli (in Garhwal). A commissioner and a DIG will be deployed in Gairsain
  • CM had announced in the Budget Session of the Assembly held in Gairsain that the town will become summer capital of the state.
  • Three months later, Governor Baby Rani Maurya had given her assent for declaration of Bhararisen (Gairsain) as the summer capital, putting an end to a two-decade-long wait of the hill region
  • Gairsain, a tehsil in Chamoli district, is located nearly 270-km from the existing temporary capital of Dehradun.
  • Even when Uttarakhand was carved out as a separate state from Uttar Pradesh on November 9, 2000, statehood activists had contended that Gairsain was best suited to be the capital of the mountainous state since it was between both Kumaon and Garhwal regions.
  • But it was Dehradun in the plains that was named the temporary capital.
  • The issue is largely political. In its Vision Document, released before the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP had promised, to equip Gairsain with top-class infrastructure and consider declaring it as a summer capital with the “consensus of all”.
  • Former CM Vijay Bahuguna (then as Congress leader) had held the first cabinet meeting in Gairsain in the local block office building in 2012.
  • It was then announced that Gairsain will host at least one session in a year.
  • Bahuguna had also laid the foundation stone of a Vidha Sabha building in Gairsain in January 2013.
  • Hence, the Congress always seeks credit for taking the first steps in anointing Gairsain as summer capital of the state. The previous Harish Rawat government too had held Assembly sessions in Gairsain
  • Developed in an area of 47-acres, the Vidhan Sabha complex in Bhararisen stands at a height of 2,380-metre from the sea level, making it a cold location for the entire year.
  • When a session is convened, files as well as officers and staff from Vidhan Sabha and Secretariat in Dehradun make the 10-hour journey here and return as soon as the proceedings end
  • Like the other two, Kumaon and Garhwal, it will have a senior
  • IAS officer as commissioner and senior IPS as deputy-inspector general of police.
  • The CM also announced that a town planner for Gairsain will be appointed soon and tender for the master plan will be issued in a month.
  • About 20,000 trees will be planted and a food processing unit would be established in the arealt has no railway network or airport, though plans to build an airstrip was announced way back in 2012 by the then CM Vijay Bahuguna

Art and Culture: 

Monument of National Importance Tag for Kerala’s St George’s Orthodox Church

  • Context: A controversy is brewing over the takeover of the land and building of St George Orthodox Church at Cheppad near Kayamkulam for the development of NH 66.
  • About: The survey as part of the land acquisition was completed by NHAI officials amid the protest by parishioners
  • About the Church: 
  • George Orthodox Church, Cheppad, Alapuzha in Kerala, is popularly known as Cheppad Valiya Pally and is a pilgrim center of Malankara Orthodox Church.
  • The 800 year-old murals in the Church exhibit Christian traditional paintings.
  • These paintings, a blend of Persian art and Kerala’s mural artwork, have drawn enthusiasts from far and wide.
  • Besides, Philipose Mar Dionysius, Malankara Metropolitan during the 19th Century, was buried attached to its sanctuary
  • Built in AD 950
  • It is believed that the church was built in AD 950, but some experts put the year of construction at AD 1050.
  • Though it was rebuilt in 1952, the apse at the eastern end of the church was left intact to preserve the murals.
  • Centuries-old St. George’s Orthodox Church at Cheppad is now set to be declared a centrally protected monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Last month, as directed by the ASI Director General, a team of officials from the ASI Thrissur circle inspected the church and recommended its preservation. K.P. Mohandas, superintending archaeologist, wrote a letter to the NHAI urging it to propose a new alignment for the NH.

Maa Bamleshwari Devi Temple project development – Tourism minister lays foundation stone:

  • Context: Development of Maa Bamleshwari Devi Temple, Dongargarh” has been approved by the Ministry of Tourism with an estimated cost of Rs. 43.33 Cr in Oct. 2020
  • About: The project includes works for development of pilgrimage infrastructure at ‘Pilgrimage Activity Center’ with a Shri Yantra shaped iconic building, development of steps, sheds, walkway, area illumination, lakefront, parking with other public amenities for the MaaBamleshwari Devi Temple and the pilgrimage amenities at Pragyagiri.
  • Union Minister Shri Patel hoped that the project once executed successfully, will certainly improve experience of pilgrims coming to the destinations
  • The ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) is a Central Sector Scheme fully financed by the Government of India launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the objective of integrated development of identified pilgrimage and heritage destinations.
  • The scheme aimed at infrastructure development such as entry points (Road, Rail and Water Transport), last mile connectivity, basic tourism facilities like Information/ Interpretation Centers, ATM/ Money exchange, eco-friendly modes of transport, area Lighting and illumination with renewable sources of energy, parking, drinking water, toilets, cloak room, waiting rooms, first aid centers, craft bazars /haats/ souvenir shops/ cafeteria, rain shelters, Telecom facilities, internet connectivity etc.
  • Till now, 13 projects have been successfully completed under PRASHAD Scheme to promote spiritual tourism. The completed projects include two projects each at Somnath, Mathura, Tamil Nadu and Bihar and one project each at Varanasi, Guruvayur and Amaravati (Guntoor), Kamakhya and Amritsar.

Science and Technology:

Sindhu Netra satellite launched by ISRO – DRDO’s Sindhu Netra satellite will monitor Indian Ocean:

  • Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation on Sunday launched ‘Sindhu Netra’, a satellite developed by the DRDO to monitor the activities of military and merchant navy ships in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • About:  The Sindhu Netra satellite was developed by young DRDO scientists and it is capable of automatically identifying the warships and merchant ships operating in the IOR.
  • It will also help in carrying out surveillance in specific areas such as the South China Sea or near the Gulf of Aden and the African coast.
  • Sindhu Netra is one of the first in the series of satellites for defence purposes. (Requirement 4-6)
  • It will help India in enhancing its surveillance capabilities on land in areas including the Ladakh region and the border areas with Pakistan.

GISAT 1 Satellite – India’s Eye in the Sky for border security & natural disasters:

  • Context: India plans to launch on March 28 an earth observation satellite that will provide it near real-time images of its borders and also enable quick monitoring of natural disasters.
  • About: GISAT-1 is slated to be lofted into space by GSLV-F10 rocket from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district.
  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II (GSLV Mk II) is the largest launch vehicle developed by India, which is currently in operation.
  • Weighing about 2268 kg, GISAT-1 is the first state-of-the-art agile Earth observation satellite which will be placed in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit by GSLV-F10.
  • It will be subsequently positioned in geostationary orbit, about 36,000 kms above earth’s equator, using its onboard propulsion system.
  • Experts said positioning the state-of-the-art agile earth observation satellite in geostationary orbit has key advantages.
  • “It’s going to be a game-changer in some sense for India”
  • “With onboard high resolution cameras, the satellite will allow the country to monitor the Indian land mass and the oceans, particularly its borders continuously”.
  • Listing the objectives of the mission, ISRO has earlier said the satellite would provide near real-time imaging of the large area region of interest at frequent intervals.
  • It would help in quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic and any short-term events.
  • The third objective is to obtain spectral signatures of agriculture, forestry, mineralogy, disaster warning, cloud properties, snow and glacier and oceanography.
  • According to sources, GISAT-1 will be followed by the maiden flight of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, ISRO’s compact launcher, likely in April.
  • SSLV has been designed to meet “launch on demand” requirements in a cost-effective manner for small satellites in a dedicated and ride share mode.
  • It is a three-stage all solid vehicle with a capability to launch up to 500 kg satellite mass into 500 km low earth orbit (LEO) and 300 kg into Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
  • With lower per kg launch cost, the mini launcher will have multiple satellite mounting options for nano, micro and small satellites.

International Relations:

China’s Polar Silk Road – China to connect Atlantic and Pacific oceans using Arctic Ocean:

  • Context: China has made clear its intention to expand in the Arctic region and published a white paper on this in early 2018 calling for its transformation into a “Polar Silk Road” and highlighting its plans to integrate with its multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • About: As the ice-covered parts of the Arctic Ocean melt due to climate change, China has flagged its interest to take part in building “Polar Silk Road”, raising prospects for the emergence of a new sea route.
  • China will participate in 
  1. The pragmatic cooperation on the Arctic and
  2. The building of a “Polar Silk Road,” the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the draft outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives to the year 2035.
  • Polar silk road:
  • Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Transpolar Sea Route (TSR) will cut across the centre of the Arctic Ocean, passing close to the North Pole
  • Challenges and Prospects
  • It could significantly reduce distances for global trade.
  • But it remains frozen over for most of the year, making it much harder to traverse.
  • The two Arctic shipping routes currently available – the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage.
  • China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013.
  • Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in Russia’s Yamal LNG project which is expected to supply China with four million tonnes of LNG a year
  • China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region.


Light Machine Gun Negev NG 7 – Indian soldiers at LOC and LAC to get Israeli LMG Negev NG 7 

  • Context: Troops positioned along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) under the Northern Command will get the first tranche of Israeli Light Machine Gun (LMG) Negev NG-7.They have been procured under the fast-track procurement process (FTP).
  • About: 6,000 of the 7.62X51 mm LMGs, with belt ammunition capability, landed in the country (Mumbai) in January. Acceptance trials for the same are being completed and that forward troops will get their hands
  • A light machine gun (LMG) is a light-weight machine gun designed to be operated by a single infantryman. LMGs often fire smaller-caliberrifle cartridges.
  • The new LMGs will replace the 5.56x45mm INSAS LMG, which is a derivative of the INSAS assault rifle.
  • Because the calibre of NG-7 is bigger than the ones it is replacing, the
  • Negev will have higher lethal firepower. And because it has the belt ammunition feature, the new LMG will be able to have sustained rate of fire unlike the earlier one that was magazine fed.
  • It is also capable of pinpoint, single bullet shooting for enhanced firing accuracy, and has a range of over 800 meters, in line with the requirements of the Army.
  • In automatic mode, the NG-7 has a rate of fire of over 700 bullets per minute.
  • Weighing 7.5 kg, the LMG can be fired from a wide range of mounts, vehicles, helicopters and naval vessels

Scorpene Class Submarine INS Karanj delivered to Navy by Mazagon Dock Limited – INS Karanj facts:

  • Context: Scorpène is the conventional submarine designed by Naval Group for the export market.
  • About: 14 Scorpène submarines are in operational service or being built, for the Chilean Navy (2 units), the Malaysian Navy (2 units), the Indian Navy (6 units) and the Brazilian Navy (4 units).
  • Programs of Indian navy for submarines:
  • According to official documents, the Indian Navy has two ongoing conventional submarine programs, with a third one on the way.
  • Six submarines of Scorpene class are to be constructed at Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai.
  • Two Submarines of the project namely INS Kalvari and Khanderi have been commissioned in December 2017 and September 2019 respectively.
  • The balance submarines are likely to be inducted every nine months. The last submarine is likely to be delivered in June 2022.
  • PHASE I- PROJECT – 75(I)
  • Six submarines are to be constructed under P-75(I) under the Strategic Partnership model promulgated by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on 31 May 2017.
  • AoN for the case has been accorded by DAC on 27 February 2019. The induction of the submarines would be between 2027-2032.
  • PHASE II: Twelve submarines of an indigenous design are envisaged to be constructed in India in this phase with the experience gained and technology absorbed from construction of submarines under Phase I.

Government scheme and Initiative:

India’s first state of the art SDC for Fire Safety Training inaugurated by Rajnath Singh in UP

  • Context: Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh has inaugurated Skill Development Centre (SDC) for Fire Safety Training of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) through virtual mode at Pilkhuwa in Uttar Pradesh.
  • About: The first of its kind in India facility has been created by Delhi based DRDO laboratory ‘Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES)’.
  • The SDC DRDO facility will help in developing trained human resources, fire safety technology and products to save precious human lives and valued assets.
  • The facility would be utilised for imparting fire prevention and fire-fighting training to the Fire Service personnel of Indian Armed Forces, DRDO, Ordnance Factories, Coast Guard and defence undertakings.
  • It has been created by adopting state-of-the-art technology and setting up simulation systems for the validation of fire at a realistic scale in order to meet the challenges and enhance the skills of Defence Fire Service Personnel and combatants from the armed forces.
  • About SDC DRDO facility:
  • Constructed as per international standards, the SDC has four bays with fire-fighting and rescue appliances such as hydraulic platform, air crash fire tender and emergency rescue tender, which will be used for imparting practical/hands-on training besides an important life-saving personal protective equipment for the firefighters.
  • The Centre has a fire drill tower with an emergency escape chute which would be used for simulation of a fire in high rise buildings, a breathing apparatus training facility, a model fire station housing specialised fire-fighting and rescue appliances, an LPG petroleum tank farm simulator, fire suit test and evaluation facility, a hostel and transit facility and administrative and training facility.
  • In his inaugural address, Singh lauded DRDO for this significant step in the field of fire safety.

India’s first elevated Urban Expressway to connect Delhi and Gurugram – Know all about it

  • Context: India’s first elevated Urban Expressway, Delhi to Gurugram
  • About: Union minister Nitin Gadkari has said that he is hopeful that the construction work on 8,662-crore Dwarka Expressway will be completed before 15 August, 2022.
  • The 29-km expressway, which connects Dwarka in Delhi to Gurugram, has been constructed under the Bharatmala Project.
  • “He reviewed the progress of India’s First Grade Separated Urban Expressway, Dwarka Expressway,
  • Being built in four packages, the total length of the expressway is 29 kilometres out of which 18.9-kilometre length falls in Haryana while the remaining 10.1-kilometre length is in Delhi.
  • It starts from Shiv-Murti on National Highway-8 and ends near KherkiDaula Toll Plaza.
  • Gadkari said it will be the first-ever elevated Urban Expressway in India.
  • Its construction will also immensely help to reduce air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region.
  • The Delhi-Gurugram section of National Highway-8 is presently carrying traffic of over three lakh passenger car units (PCUs), which is much beyond the design capacity of this 8-lane highway, leading to severe congestion.
  • With the construction of the present project, 50 to 60% of traffic on National Highway-8 will be reduced, the minister added.
  • The project will also provide around 50,000 direct or indirect employment opportunities.
  • Once complete, the minister said, it will be an “engineering marvel” of the country with the longest (3.6 kilometres) and widest (8 lanes) urban road tunnel in India.
  • The project’s road network will also comprise of four levels, i.e. tunnel/ underpass, at-grade road, elevated flyover and flyover above flyover.
  • The project also comprises India’s first 9-km long 8-lane flyover (34-metre wide) on single pier with 6-lane service roads.
  • There will be a fully automated tolling system with 22 lanes toll plaza.The entire project will be equipped with an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)
  • The project has a total estimated consumption of two lakh MT of steel, which is 30 times that of the Eiffel Tower.
  • The total estimated consumption of 20 lakh Cum of Concrete is six times of the Burj Khalifa building.


Freedom Report 2021 by US think tank Freedom House – India downgraded from Free to Partly Free

  • Context: US think tank downgraded india from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’
  • About: India’s status has been downgraded from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free‘ by the US government-funded NGO Freedom House,
  • Due to “a crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters”
  • Freedom House is the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world.
  • It was formally established in New York in 1941 to promote American involvement in World War II and the fight against fascism.
  • Freedom House rates people’s access to political rights and civil liberties in 210 countries and territories through its annual Freedom in the World report.
  • Individual freedoms—ranging from the right to vote to freedom of expression and equality before the law— can be affected by state or non-state actors.
  • India’s score in the organisation’s annual Freedom in the World report this year – based on data from 2020 – was 67, a drop from 71/100 from 2020, which downgraded it from the free category.
  • Reason For Fall
  • The democracy advocacy group noted that India’s fall from the upper ranks of free nations could “have a particularly damaging impact on global democratic standards”.
  • The report said that the deterioration in political rights and civil liberties had “only accelerated after Modi’s reelection in 2019” and that judicial independence had also come under strain.
  • In one case, a judge was transferred immediately after reprimanding the police for taking no action during riots in New Delhi that left over 50 people, mostly Muslims, dead,”
  • The report said referring to the transfer of Justice S. Muralidhar from the Delhi high court in February 2020. The report also made a note of Uttar Pradesh’s ‘love jihad’ law to prohibit forced religious conversion through interfaith marriage and said that a number of Muslim men had been arrested for allegedly forcing Hindu women to convert to Islam.
  • It further cited the abrupt COVID-19 lockdown “which left millions of migrant workers in cities without work or basic resources” and “resulted in the dangerous and unplanned displacement of millions of internal migrant workers”.
  • “Under Modi, India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all

Ease of Living Index 2020 – Bengaluru most livable city in India – Status of other Indian cities:

  • Context: Bengaluru was adjudged the most liveable among 111 cities in India in the government’s “Ease of Living Index”
  • About: Followed by Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Coimbatore, Vadodra, Indore and Greater Mumbai.
  • Of the 49 cities ranked on the livability index in the “million plus population” category, Delhi figures at the 13th spot and Srinagar at the bottom.
  • According to the index released by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Shimla topped the category of cities with “population less than million”.
  • In this category, Bhubaneshwar was ranked second and Silvassa third, followed by Kakinada, Salem, Vellore, Gandhinagar, Gurgaon, Davangere and Tiruchirapalli. Muzaffarpur was at the bottom of the list of 62 cities.
  • Performance of the cities have been measured on four broad parameters – governance and social, physical and economic infrastructure.
  • The government said the “Ease of Living Index” is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development.
  • The EoLI 2020 strengthens its scope by consolidating the framework with the addition of a Citizen Perception Survey in the index, holding a weightage of 30%.
  • It, therefore, examines the outcomes that lead to existing living conditions through pillars of Quality of Life, Economic Ability, Sustainability, spanning across 13 categories of – Education, Health, Housing and Shelter, WASH and SWM, Mobility, Safety and Security, Recreation, Level of Economic Development, Economic Opportunities, Environment, Green Spaces, and Buildings, Energy Consumption, and City Resilience,That account for 70% of the overall outcome.
  • The Citizen Perception Survey (CPS) was undertaken to help validate citizens’ experience of their city in terms of service delivery.
  • The assessment was conducted from 16th January 2020 till 20th March 2020.
  • A total of 32.2 lakh citizens from 111 cities participated in the survey.