PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 14th February to 21st February – 2021

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  • February 26, 2021
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PLI scheme for Telecom Sector

(Topic: Government policies in the Telecom sector)

Pursuant to the extraordinary incentive of PLI being provided by Government of India in various sectors, the Cabinet approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products. This approval comes in wake of very encouraging success of PLI related to Mobile and component manufacturing, which was announced in April 2020 during the height of Covid pandemic.

Cabinet decision addresses another component of Atmanirbhar Bharat to make India a global hub of manufacturing telecom equipment including core transmission equipment, 4G/5G Next Generation Radio Access Network and Wireless Equipment, Access & Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), Internet of Things (IoT) Access Devices, Other Wireless Equipment and Enterprise equipment like Switches, Routers etc.

  • The core component of this scheme is to offset the huge import of telecom equipment worth more than Rs. 50 thousand crores and reinforce it with “Made in India” products both for domestic markets and exports.
  • Financial Year 2019-20 shall be treated as the Base Year for computation of cumulative incremental sales of manufactured goods net of taxes.
  • The Scheme will be operational from 1st April 2021.
  • This scheme also addresses local manufacturing in MSME category because Government desires MSMEs to play an important role in the telecom sector and come out as national champions. 
  • This scheme will lead to incremental production of around ₹2.4 Lakh Crores with exports of around ₹2 Lakh Crores over 5 years. It is expected that scheme will bring investment of more than ₹3,000 crore and generate huge direct and indirect employment and taxes both.

Cabinet approves Amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

Objective: To introduce measures for strengthening Child Protection set-up to ensure best interest of children.

What is the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2015?

  • Updated Legislation: It was introduced and passed in Parliament in 2015 to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act) 2000. 
  • Change in nomenclature: The Act changes the nomenclature from Juvenile to child or ‘child in conflict with law’. Also, it removes the negative connotation associated with the word “juvenile”.
  • Special Provisions for Age 16-18 years: One of the main provisions of the new Act was that juveniles charged with heinous crimes and who are between the ages of 16-18 years would be tried as adults and processed through the adult justice system. This provision received an impetus after the 2012 Delhi gangrape in which one of the accused was just short of 18 years, and was therefore tried as a juvenile.
  • Juvenile Justice Board: The nature of the crime, and whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or a child, was to be determined by a Juvenile Justice Board (set up in every district). Also Child Welfare Committees must be set up in every district. Both must have at least one woman member each.
  • Adoption Related Clauses: Another major provision was that the Act streamlined adoption procedures for orphans, abandoned and surrendered children and the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively
  • Inclusion of New Offences: The Act included several new offences committed against children (like, illegal adoptions, use of child by militant groups, offences against disabled children, etc) which are not adequately covered under any other law.

What are the amendments passed by the Union Cabinet?

1. The inclusion of serious crimes apart from heinous crimes

  • It has included for the first time the category of “serious crimes” differentiating it from heinous crimes, while retaining heinous crimes. Both heinous and serious crimes have also been clarified for the first time, removing any ambiguity.
  • What this means is that for a juvenile to be tried for a heinous crime as an adult, the punishment of the crime should not only have a maximum sentence of seven years or more, but also a minimum sentence of seven years.
  • This provision has been made to ensure that children, as much as possible, are protected and kept out of the adult justice system. 
  • Heinous crimes with a minimum imprisonment of seven years pertain mostly to sexual offences and violent sexual crimes. Crime like the possession and sale of an illegal substance, such as drugs or alcohol, will now fall under the ambit of a “serious crime’’.

2. Expanding the purview of district and additional district magistrates

  • The NCPCR report pf 2019-19 had found that not a single Child Care Institution in the country was found to be 100 per cent compliant to the provisions of the JJ Act.
  • DM and ADMs will monitor the functioning of various agencies under the JJ Act in every district. This includes the Child Welfare Committees, the Juvenile Justice Boards, the District Child Protection Units and the Special juvenile Protection Units.
  • Amendment says that no new children’s home can be opened without the sanction of the DM. They are also responsible now for ensuring that CCIs falling in their district are following all norms and procedures (earlier the process was relaxed and lacked effective oversight)
  • The DM will also carry out background checks of Child Welfare Committee members, who are usually social welfare activists, including educational qualifications, as there is no such provision currently to check if a person has a case of girl child abuse against him.
  • To hasten the process of adoption and ensure the swift rehabilitation of children into homes and foster homes, the amendment further provides that the DM will also now be in charge of sanctioning adoptions, removing the lengthy court process.

The challenges: While the amendments have been welcomed by most, in its attempt to provide better protection to children in need of care, the challenge perceived is that of having given too many responsibilities to the DM. 

The amendments, once approved by Parliament, will increase the role of district magistrates and empower them to undertake inspections of childcare institutions.

Cabinet approves Comprehensive Economic cooperation and Partnership Agreement between India and Mauritius

  • The India-Mauritius CECPA will be the first trade Agreement to be signed by India with a country in Africa. 
  • The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas

Impact or benefits:

  • CECPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries. 
  • The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers 310 export items for India, including food stuff and beverages (80 lines), agricultural products (25 lines), textile and textile articles (27 lines), base metals and articles thereof (32 lines), electricals and electronic item (13 lines), plastics and chemicals (20 lines), wood and articles thereof (15 lines), and others.
  • Mauritius will benefit from preferential market access into India for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.
  • As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors such as professional services, computer related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services.
  • Both sides have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the Signing of the Agreement.


India and Mauritius enjoy excellent bilateral relations, sustained by historic cultural affinities, frequent high-level political interactions, development cooperation, defence and maritime partnership, and people to people linkages.

  • Mauritius is an important development partner of India. India had extended a ‘Special Economic Package’ of USD 353 million to Mauritius in 2016. 
  • The new Supreme Court building project is one of the five projects being implemented under this package and was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Mauritius PravindJugnauth in July 2020. 
  • In October 2019, Prime Minister Modi and the PM of Mauritius had jointly inaugurated the Phase -I of the Metro Express Project and the 100-bed state of the art ENT hospital project in Mauritius, also built under the special economic package.
  • Since 2005, India has been among the largest trading partners of Mauritius, and has been one of the largest exporters of goods and services to Mauritius. According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), in 2019, the main import partners of Mauritius were India (13.85%), China (16.69%), South Africa (8.07%), and UAE (7.28%). 
  • The bilateral trade between India and Mauritius has registered a growth of 233% from USD 206.76 million in Financial Year (FY) 2005-06 to USD 690.02 million in FY 2019-20. 
  • India’s exports to Mauritius surged 232% from USD 199.43 million in FY 2005-06 to USD 662.13 million in FY 2019-20, while India’s imports from Mauritius increased 280% from USD7.33 million in 2005-06 to USD 27.89 million in FY 2019-20.

The India-Mauritius CECPA will further cement the already deep and special relations between the two countries.

Forward Looking and Growth Oriented Budget for Chemical and Petrochemical Sector

(Topic: Government policies in the Petrochemical sector)

India is a net importer of Chemicals and Petrochemicals.  The gap of domestic demand and supply of Chemicals and Petrochemicals is being bridged through imports. To attract investment in the sector, there had been a need of spread in duty structure of raw materials and intermediates/finished products. With this intention the duty structure support is provided for crucial Tariff Lines to become domestic Chemical and Petrochemical industry, globally cost competitive and to become Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.

Chemical and Petrochemical industry has been demanding since long back for reduction in import duty on feedstock such as ‘Naphtha’ to become globally cost competitive for production of Chemicals and Petrochemicals. This long standing demand has been taken care of by the Government in the budget 2021-22. 

The massive emphasis on infrastructure spending is expected to result in additional consumption of petrochemicals like polymers and specialty chemicals. 

Also, Agriculture focused measure like doubling of outlay for micro irrigation to Rs 10,000 crores will further fuel demand for polymer based irrigation products and services.

The new vehicle scraping policy will boost the polymer and elastomer consumption in anticipation of requirement of new and additional vehicles. The increased outlay on healthcare and the fund for vaccination will boost polymer consumption with requirements of syringes and other polymer based healthcare products. In general, with increased government spending the requirement of petrochemicals and polymers which are required in very wide range of sectors will also increase and provide ad fillip to local demand.

Government has announced opening up of seven mega textile parks in the country to boost the textile industry. The world is looking for sourcing of textile products from India and buyers will be happy to find alternative to source the product from India rather than focusing of these products from China and other South East Asian countries. This will support entire textile value chain including manmade fiber as a component of value chain by having efficient supply chain and infrastructure made available in these textile parks.

  • Synthetic Industry has welcomed increase in import duty on raw cotton. This will support farmers to get better remuneration on cotton production and also eliminate cheap imports coming from neighboring countries. As such India is surplus of cotton and rather than exporting cotton.
  • Industry also welcomes increase in BCD on silk and silk products. Synthetic Industry will be able to substitute silk products silk products by supplying silk like products out of synthetic fibres.

On Naphtha Duty reduced from 4% to 2.5%; decreased custom duty on naphtha is likely to further improve the utilization of crackers resulting in availability of cost competitive olefins and aromatics. Low cost naphtha will also make a way into the availability of ethylene and propylene for petrochemical intermediates in value chain. Further boost to the production of major basic petrochemicals.

On Carbon black Duty increased from 5% to 7.5%; Carbon Black is used in making tyres. With the growth of automobile industry this would lead to new capacity creation of carbon black and also improve capacity utilization of domestic players.

On Builder’s ware of plastics Duty increased from 10% to 15%; It will help in Competitive prices of plastics for local plastic processors against cheaper imports. Further, it will increase in capacity utilization by the plastic processors.

On Polycarbonates Duty increased from 5 to 7.5%: This is used to make shatterproof windows, lightweight eyeglass lenses, etc. The revised duty may attract new investment in the technology intensive polycarbonate market.

On Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) Duty increased from NIL to 7.5%; it is being used in the production of polyurethanes for many applications, spandex yarn, etc. The revised custom duty will attract investments in India given the rising demand of polyurethanes and presence of no local players.


Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPPQ)

(Topic: Agriculture)

The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare performs regulatory, monitoring, surveillance and Human Resource Development functions through a scheme “Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPPQ)” with the aim of minimizing loss to quality and yield of agricultural crops from the ravages of insect pests, diseases, weeds, nematodes, rodents etc. and to shield our bio-security from the incursion and spread of alien species. Revalidation of more than 1200 pack houses, rice mills, processing units, treatment facilities, fumigation agencies, post entry quarantine facilities etc., to facilitate agri export has been done. 

  • To promote Integrated Pest Management and judicious use of Pesticides, 14 crop specific and pest specific Package of Practices have been issued to the States during the lockdown period.
  • To promote Make in India, 6788 Certificates of Registration (CR) have been issued to indigenous manufacturers of pesticides and 1011 CRs issued for export of pesticides. The Destructive Insect and Pests Act, 1914 and the Insecticides Act, 1968 provide the legal framework for the regulatory function.

During 2020-21, India became the first country in the world to control locusts by using drones after finalizing protocols and Standard Operating Procedures. The largest locust control operation in Indian history has been conducted by the Central Government in collaboration with the States. Locust attack was controlled in more than 5.70 lakh hectare area of ​​10 States. Control capabilities of Locust Circle Offices (LCOs) have been strengthened by deploying helicopters for aerial spraying of pesticides for locust control. 

Government announces liberalised guidelines for geo-spatial data

(Topic: Science and Technology, new developments)

By liberalizing the geo-spatial guidelines, the government has taken a historic decision that will lead to a One Lakh Crore Rupees Geo-Spatial economy. It will enable science to become a public movement and also to deliver a New India to people of the country.

Maps and accurate geospatial data are crucial for national infrastructure projects such as linkages of rivers, creation of industrial corridors and deploying smart power systems.Emerging vibrant technologies like Digital India, Smart Cities, eCommerce, autonomous drones, delivery, logistics and urban transport require a leap forward in mapping with greater depth, resolution and precision. In every economic endeavor, spanning agriculture, finance, construction, mining and local enterprise, India’s farmers, small businesses and corporations alike stand to gain tremendously from the application of innovative technologies based on modern geospatial data technologies and mapping services.

The next generation of technologies will use hyper-resolution maps.  

  • Availability of comprehensive, highly accurate, granular and constantly updated representation of Geospatial Data will significantly benefit diverse sectors of the economy and will significantly boost innovation in the country and greatly enhance the preparedness of the country for emergency response/  
  • The availability of data and modern mapping technologies to Indian companies is also crucial for achieving the vision of AtmaNirbharBharat and a five trillion-dollar economy.
  • For Indian entities, there would be complete deregulation with no prior approvals, security clearances, licenses, etc. for acquisition and production of geospatial data and geospatial data services including maps
  • All geospatial data produced using public funds, except classified geospatial data collected by security/law enforcement agencies, will be made accessible for scientific, economic and developmental purposes to all Indian Entities and without any restrictions on their use.  Government agencies and others need to collaborate and work towards openlinked geospatial data
  • Stakeholders benefitted will include practically every segment of society, from industry to academia to government departments

Successful user trials of DRDO-developed Anti-Tank Guided Missile Systems ‘Helina’ and ‘Dhruvastra’

(Topic: Defence and technology)

Joint User Trials for Helina (Army Version) and Dhruvastra (Air Force Version) Missile Systems have been carried out from Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) platform in desert ranges. The missile systems have been designed and developed indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Five missions were carried out for evaluating the missile capabilities in minimum and maximum range.The missiles were fired in hover and max forward flight against realistic static and moving targets. Some missions were carried out with warheads against derelict tanks. A mission was carried out against a moving target from a forward flying helicopter.

The Helinaand Dhruvastra are third generation, Lock on Before Launch (LOBL) fire and forget Anti-Tank Guided Missiles that can engage targets both in direct hit mode as well as top attack mode. The system has all-weather day and night capability and can defeat battle tanks with conventional armour as well as with explosive reactive armour. It is one of the most-advanced anti-tank weapons in the world. Now, the missile systems are ready for induction.

Increased outlay for BRO in Budget 2021-22 

(Topic: Defence)

Union Budget 2021-22 has proposed increased funding for Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to boost infrastructure in frontier areas. 

  • Allocation for road development projects in border areas has been raised from Rs 5,586.23 crore to Rs 6,004.08 crore for Financial Year 2021-22. 
  • The budget for maintenance of border roads has gone up from Rs 750 crore to Rs 850 crore, while the capital works allocation has been revised upwards to Rs 2,500 crore from budgetary provision of Rs 2,300 crore for Financial Year 2020-21.

This increased allocation shall facilitate procurement of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery to enhance the pace of construction warranted by strategic imperatives. A large share of increased funding will be used for better upkeep of strategic roads in the border areas and it will also give a major boost to construction of strategically important roads, tunnels and bridges along the northern and north-eastern borders.

Prelims-oriented News

India’s first full-fledged international cruise terminal: Kochi, Kerala

Sultan of Oman: His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik

International Mother Language Day: 21 February

Mission “One Nation One Standard”: To make India the leader in setting global benchmarks in setting standards. While all areas of production and services be included in this national mission, bringing a national uniformity and standardization in all kinds of public procurement and tendering can be an immediate deliverable.

  • Lab testing in India should be world standards. 
  • Modern equipments and latest technologies should be used there. He added that Gap analysis of BIS and Government labs be taken up on priority basis as well.
  • Effort should be made to merge different standards under one standard  as much as possible.
  • Industry should be invited for more dialogue, participation and collaboration in this mission of “one nation one standard”. 
  • Process of granting certification should be kept as simple as possible and duplication of work should be avoided.

We should aim to be the world leader in having maximum industrial products under Indian Standards and no one should feel the need to go abroad to get quality certification.

Delisting of Devendra Kula Vellalar community from SC community: The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has clarified that the reports appearing in media about delisting of Devendra Kula Vellalar community from SC soon, is completely misinformed. The Cabinet has approved for categorising (7) SC communities into Devendra Kula Vellalar which would also be a part of the Scheduled Castes list of Tamil Nadu.

  • The Devendra Kula Vellalar community is a Scheduled Caste community that has seven sub-sects and comprise over 17.05 per cent of the Scheduled Caste community in Tamil Nadu, according to Census 2011. The community has been demanding to be given a Most Backward status and remove SC status from their community, as they are agrarian and not manual scavengers. They also demanded a 6 per cent reservation for the community.
  • This community is currently identified by seven different sub-sects, i.e., Devendrakulathan, Kudumban, Pannadi, Kaaladi, Kadayan, Pallan and Patharia. They had been demanding to bring all these sub-sects under one umbrella. On February 14, PM Modi on his visit to Tamil Nadu announced that the Union government has accepted the demand to bring seven sub-sects of the Devendrakula Vellalar community under one umbrella. Thus, now rather than being called by their independent sect name, they will all be called Devendrakula Vellalar.

11th IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks

  • The symposium saw the presence of heads of all top inter-governmental energy agencies -IEF, IEA, OPEC, IRENA and the GECF. Also, dignitaries like, H.E. Norma RocíoNahle García, Secretary of Energy, Mexico and H.E. Timipre Sylva, Minister of State of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria participated in the event.
  • Apart from the comparative analysis of short, medium, and long-term energy outlooks that OPEC and the IEA published in 2020, the trilateral symposium reflected on the long-term outlooks of key producer and consumer countries.

On India:

  • While the world’s total primary energy demand would increase at less than 1% per annum till 2040, India’s energy demand would grow at about 3% per annum till 2040.
  • The recently-released IEA’s India Energy Outlook 2021 highlights that India has now emerged as the key centre for global energy demand, and is expected to become world’s largest energy consumer soon. Our share in global energy consumption is set to double in the next three decades.
  • India has appealed to the oil-producing countries to have a rethink on continuing and increasing production cuts. In the collective interests of both producing and consuming countries, prices should be reasonable and responsible. The price-sensitive Indian consumers are getting adversely affected by rising petroleum product prices. It also affects demand growth, which could potentially impact the delicate aspirational economic growth trajectory not just in India but in other developing countries as well. 

India-Singapore CEO Forum: Inviting businesses from both sides to bring in sparkle into India and Singapore’s partnership, Minister of Railways; Commerce & Industry; Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution Shri Piyush Goyal said that ours is a strong & productive partnership, which can be taken to higher levels. The minister said that it is a partnership that will help us become Aatmanirbhar& also give opportunities for us to expand our global footprint.

  • Urged businesses to look at ways how we can expand the engagement and encourage India’s youth to use more innovative technologies. 
  • India & Singapore are working together in cyber security & disaster relief, and Education and skill development can be taken up as pillars where we can work together and learn from Singapore’s experience. 
  • E-Commerce, Fintech, smart manufacturing, healthcare are significant areas where India offers a large market. He said that our working together in these areas can truly transform India’s own effort to give the best to our people.
  • Singapore and the GIFT city which is our first operational smart city, have tied up with the Singapore exchange to boost international investment in India.
  • Buddhism, Bollywood and Business can help in cementing the partnership

Release of 3rd Edition of Indian Sign Language dictionary: Has 10,000 terms (including 6,000 earlier terms)

  • The Dictionary has been brought out by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous Institute under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • The 3rd edition of the ISL Dictionary contains total 10,000 terms of everyday use, academic terms, legal & administrative terms, medical terms, technical terms and agricultural terms. The Dictionary also contains regional signs used in different parts of the country. 
  • The 1st edition of the ISL Dictionary was launched on 23rd March 2018 with 3000 terms and the 2nd edition with 6000 terms (including earlier 3000 terms) was launched on 27th February 2019.

All India Surveys: Being conducted by Labour Bureau, an attached office of Ministry of Labour & Employment 

  • The five All India surveys on migrant workers, domestic workers, employment generated by professionals and transport sector have tremendous role to play at national level by providing data on the most effected labour market participants.
  • This is the first time that the Bureau will collect data through greater use of information technology which will enable it to effectively meet the rapid demands for data in the field of labour and employment. Surveys will be conducted using AI based technology intervention with Speech-to-Text facility along with Geo-Fencing Technology, Travel Schedule, Message Broadcast functionalities inbuilt. Real time reporting and monitoring with advance dashboards, command and control centre are also being developed. The IT interventions in conduct of surveys will reduce the completion time of surveys by at least 30-40%. The Bureau will engage an IT partner for providing the technological support for these surveys. This success of Bureau in utilisation of this innovative technology will be worth emulating by other agencies involved in similar survey works.
  • These ambitious surveys will provide a comprehensive picture of the employment scenario in the country thereby formulating sound National Employment policy of the country.
    1. All India Survey of Migrant workers,
    2. All India survey of Domestic Workers,
    3. All India survey of employment generated by Professionals,
    4. All India survey of employment generated in Transport Sector and
    5. All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey
  • The Bureau is also going to launch All India Quarterly Establishment Based Employment Survey to assess the employment situation in establishments with more than 10 workers and also less than 10 workers. These surveys will fill the huge data gap that exists on the employment numbers in the unorganized sector.

Sub-Mission on Seeds & Planting Materials: To Produce and Supply quality seeds to Farmers

  • By: The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare
  • To enhance production and productivity in the country through various components namely Seed Village Programme, Establishment of Seed Processing- cum- Seed Storage Godowns at Gram Panchyat Level, National Seed Reserve, Boosting Seed Production in Private Sector and Strengthening of Quality Control Infrastructure Facilities.

Launch of E-Chhawani portal & mobile app: Through the portal, the residents of cantonment areas will be able to avail basic services like renewal of leases, application for birth & death certificates, water & sewerage connections, trade licences, mobile toilet locators and payment of different types of taxes and fees, with just a click of a button. The portal, jointly developed by eGov Foundation, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE) and National Informatics Centre (NIC), provides a platform to the residents to avail these services from the comfort of their home.

ASI Athlete creates history by breaking National Record and Qualifying for Tokyo Olympics 2021

  • At the 8th National Race Walking Championship, held at Ranchi, Athletes of ASI created history by Qualifying for Tokyo Olympics 2021. 
  • Nb Sub Sandeep Kumar of 16 JAT Regiment won Gold medal and created a new National Record with timing of 1:: 20.16sec & Gdr Rahul of 18 Grenadiers secured Silver medal with timing of 1::20.26sec both the athletes secured berth for Tokyo 2021.
  • The Tokyo Olympics qualification time for men’s 20 km race walk event is 1::21:00sec. A country can send a maximum of three athletes in an individual event.

Amazon India to commence Electronic Devices Manufacturing in India: Amazon is going to start manufacturing of Amazon Fire TV stick from India. Amazon will commence its manufacturing efforts with contract manufacturer Cloud Network Technology, a subsidiary of Foxconn in Chennai and start production later this year. The device manufacturing program will be able to produce hundreds of thousands of Fire TV Stick devices every year, catering to the demands of customers in India. Amazon will continuously evaluate scaling capacity to additional marketplaces/cities depending on the domestic demand.

  • India has taken several key steps to encourage electronics manufacturing in India. The Production Linked Manufacturing (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing has emerged as a major success with many international companies commencing production of electronics goods from India. 
  • Entry of Amazon in this sector adds to the success story of electronics manufacturing in India. This will enhance domestic production capacities, and create jobs as well

Pey Jal Survekshan: To be conducted to ascertain equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies through a challenge process

  • Under Jal Jeevan Mission- Urban
  • Data on drinking water, waste water management, non-revenue water and condition of 3 water bodies in the city will be collected through face-to-face interviews with citizens and municipal officials as per the approved questionnaire, on-call interviews, water sample collection and laboratory testing, and field survey for non-revenue water. 
  • Mission will be monitored through a technology-based platform on which beneficiary response will be monitored along with progress and output-outcome.

Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) (JJM (U)) is designed to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all 4,378 statutory towns in accordance with SDG Goal- 6. Also, sewerage/septage management in 500 AMRUT cities with the objective of making them water secure are the major focus areas under JJM (U).

Launch of ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’, laying of the foundation of Dhubri Phulbari Bridge and performance of Bhumi Pujan for construction of Majuli Bridge: In Assam

The launch of Mahabahu-Brahmaputra will be marked by the inauguration of the Ro-Pax vessel operations between Neamati-Majuli Island, North Guwahati-South Guwahati and Dhubri-Hatsingimari; Shilanyas of Inland Water Transport (IWT) Terminal at Jogighopa and various tourist jetties on River Brahmaputra and launch of digital solutions for Ease-of-Doing-Business. The program is aimed at providing seamless connectivity to the Eastern parts of India and includes various development activities for the people living around River Brahmaputra and River Barak. These jetties will promote river cruise tourism, generate local employment and also generate growth for local business.

Dhubri Phulbari Bridge: Between Dhubri (on North Bank) and Phulbari (on South Bank). 

  • The proposed Bridge will be located on NH-127B
  • It will connect Dhubri in Assam to  Phulbari, Tura, Rongram and Rongjeng in Meghalaya.
  • The bridge will meet the long-standing demand of the people from Assam and Meghalaya who were depending on ferry services to travel between the two banks of the river. It will reduce the distance of 205 Km to be travelled by Road to 19 Km, which is the total length of the bridge.

Majuli Bridge: A two-lane Bridge on the Brahmaputra between Majuli (North Bank) and Jorhat (South Bank).

  • The bridge will be located on NH-715K and will connect Neematighat (on Jorhat side) and Kamalabari (on Majuli side). 
  • The Construction of the bridge has been a long demand of the people of Majuli who for generations have been dependent on the ferry services to connect with the mainland of Assam.

Father of Indian Cinema: Dada Saheb Phalke

  • The Father of Indian Cinema, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, popularly known as Dada Saheb Phalke introduced the art of cinema in India and opened the door of unlimited imagination before our countrymen. 
  • His visionary ambition laid a strong base for today’s flourished Indian entertainment industry.
  • Paying tributes to the legend on his 77th Punyathithi and also as part of the on-going 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations, Films Division is screening select documentary and animation films on 16th February, 2021 on its website and You Tube channel.

Laying of the foundation stone of Maharaja Suheldev Memorial and development work of Chittaura Lake: In Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh marking the birth anniversary of Maharaja Suheldev

  • Suhaldev or Suheldev is an Indian king from Shravasti, popularly known to have defeated and killed the Ghaznavid general Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud at Bahraich in 1034 CE.
  • He is mentioned in the 17th century Persian-language historical romance Mirat-i-Masudi. Since the 20th century, various Hindu nationalist groups have characterized him as a Hindu King who defeated a Muslim invader.
  • Legend of Suheldev: The King Who Saved India, a novel by Amish Tripathi, is based on the legend of Suhaldev
  • On 24 February 2016, BJP president Amit Shah unveiled a statue of Suhaldev in Bahraich.[16]
  • On 29 December 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative stamp on Maharaja Suhaldev.[17]
  • On 24 June 2019, Om Prakash Rajbhar – the president of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party – unveiled a statue of Suhaldev in Indore village of Ghazipur district
  • Shravasti was a city of ancient India and one of the six largest cities in India during Gautama Buddha’s lifetime. The city was located in the fertile Gangetic plains in the present-day district of the same name, Shravasti, that belongs to Devipatan division of Uttar Pradesh near Balrampur, some 175 kilometres (109 mi) north-east of Lucknow.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India sign MoU to promote health research

  • To identify opportunities to initiate scientific and technological collaborations; these will focus on developing and testing new preventions, therapies and interventions that can help to solve major health concerns that affect India and other developing countries.
  • As per the MoU, areas of research collaboration would include genetic diseases that impact infant and neonatal mortality; new diagnostics and devices for infectious disease and environmental surveillance; development of cost-effective processes for drug, vaccines, biologics, and diagnostics manufacturing; novel microbiome-directed foods; socio-economic impact of science and technological tools; and other areas of health and development.

Personality in News

Sant Ravidasji 

  • Ravidas was an Indian mystic poet-sant of the Bhakti movement and founder of Ravidassia religion during the 15th to 16th century CE.
  • Venerated as a guru (teacher) in the region of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and mainly Punjab and Haryana. He was a poet-saint, social reformer and a spiritual figure.
  • Ravidas’s devotional verses were included in the Sikh scriptures known as Guru Granth Sahib. The Panch Vani text of the Dadupanthi tradition within Hinduism also includes numerous poems of Ravidas. He taught removal of social divisions of caste and gender, and promoted unity in the pursuit of personal spiritual freedoms.
  • Medieval era texts, such as the Bhaktamal suggest that Ravidas was the disciple of the Brahmin bhakti-poet Ramananda
  • The songs of Ravidas discuss Nirguna-Saguna themes, as well as ideas that are at the foundation of Nath Yoga philosophy of Hinduism.  
  • He frequently mentions the term Sahaj, a mystical state where there is a union of the truths of the many and the one.
  • Legends link him as the guru of Meera, another major Bhakti movement poet.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Birth – [February 19, 1630]

  • Born at Shivner; Father: Shahji Bhosale (a Maratha general who held the jagirs of Pune and Supe under the Bijapur Sultanate),  Mother:  Jija Bai – Shivaji Jayanti is observed on this day.
  • Inherited Jagir of Poona from his father in 1637
  • Shaishta khan captured Poona but Shivaji reclaimed it
  • Displayed his military zeal for the first time in 1645 when as a teenager, he successfully got control of the Torna Fort which was under Bijapur
  • Acquired the Kondana Fort, both these forts were under Adil Shah of Bijapur. Shah then got Shahaji imprisoned in a bid to contain Shivaji.
  • Battle of Pratapgarh in 1659: Shivaji’s forces vanquished the Bijapur Sultanate’s army
  • Aurangzeb sent Raja jai Singh of Amber, who besieged Purander fort →  Treaty of Purander, 1665
    • Shivaji surrendered 23 / 35 forts to Mughals and said to be loyal to Mughal empire


    • It was agreed that Shivaji would meet Aurangzeb at Agra. Shivaji also agreed to send his son Sambhaji as well.
    • At Agra in 1666, when Shivaji went to meet the Mughal emperor, the Maratha warrior felt he was insulted by Aurangzeb and stormed out of the court. He was arrested and kept prisoner. The clever escape of Shivaji and his son from imprisonment in disguise out of Agra is a legendary tale even today.
  • In 1674, Shivaji recaptured all his lost territory & crowned himself at Raigarh assuming the title of Chhtrapati, Shakakarta, Kshatriya Kulavantas and Haindava Dharmodhhaarak.
  • 3 April 1680 at Raigad: Death
  • Shivaji: Considered a master of the guerrilla warfare
  • Kanhoji Angre, his admiral, is called the ‘Father of Indian Navy’.

Also on this day – Death of Gopal Krishna Gokhale

Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915)

A protégé of Ranade and influenced by the British philosopher-parliamentarian Edmund Burke, Gokhale worked towards realising constitutional ideals in India for three decades and abjured the use of reactionary or revolutionary ways.

Gokhale first arrived on the national scene after cross-examining British colonial expenditure at the Welby Commission of 1897 in England. Gokhale’s work earned him praise in India as he laid bare British military financing policies that heavily burdened Indian taxpayers much to the chagrin of then Viceroy Lord Curzon — regarded among the most vituperative of racists to occupy that post.

In 1899, Gokhale joined the Indian National Congress, emerging as one of the main leaders of its ‘moderate’ wing, and gave up teaching three years later to work as a lawmaker for the remainder of his life.

At Bombay, Gokhale opposed the British government’s onerous land revenue policies, advocated free and compulsory primary education, and asked for the creation of equal opportunities to fight against untouchability. At the Imperial legislature, Gokhale played a key role in framing the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 and advocated for the expansion of legislative councils at both the Centre and the provinces. A critic of British imperial bureaucracy, Gokhale favoured decentralisation and the promotion of panchayat and taluka bodies.

He also spoke for the Indian diaspora living in other parts of the British Empire and opposed tooth and nail the indentured labour system, raising their problems in the Imperial legislature as well as at Congress sessions.

Gokhale became Congress president at its Banaras session in 1905. This was also the time when bitter differences had arisen between his group of ‘Moderates’ and the ‘Extremists’ led by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others. Matters came to a head when the two factions split at the Surat session of 1907. Historians note that despite ideological differences, Gokhale maintained cordial relations with his opponents. In 1907, he fervently campaigned for the release of Lala Lajpat Rai, who was imprisoned that year by the British at Mandalay in present-day Myanmar.

After Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India, he joined Gokhale’s group before going on to lead the independence movement. Gandhi regarded Gokhale as his political mentor, and wrote a book in Gujarati dedicated to the leader titled ‘Dharmatma Gokhale’.

  • Gokhale with the guidance of his mentor, M G Ranade started the Deccan Sabha in 1896 as a rival organisation to Poona Sarvajanik Sabha.
  • In 1905, when Gokhale was elected president of the Indian National Congress and was at the height of his political power, he founded the Servants of India Society to specifically further one of the causes dearest to his heart: the expansion of Indian education.
  • 1915: At the request of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, conveyed to him by C. F. Andrews, Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in January 9, 1915.

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