PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 21st March to 31st March – 2021

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  • April 1, 2021
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National Anti-Trafficking Bureau

(Topic: Social issues)

The Government of India amended the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 in 2019 to inter-alia include Section 370 and 370A of the Indian Penal Code in the Schedule of the Act.  The NIA has been given the mandate to investigate cases of human trafficking, including those having inter-state, national and international ramifications. Further, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has taken the following initiatives for the safety of women:

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was enacted for effective deterrence against sexual offences. Further, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 was enacted to prescribe even further stringent penal provisions, including death penalty, for rape of girls below the age of 12 years.
  • Emergency Response Support System provides a pan-India, single internationally recognized number (112) system for all emergencies, with computer aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress.
  • To promote use of technology to aid smart policing and safety management, Safe City Projects have been sanctioned in eight cities namely, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai in the first Phase. The projects have been prepared by State Governments taking into account the need for identification of hotspots for crimes against women for development of critical assets in urban areas including infrastructure, technology adoption and capacity building in community through awareness programmes.
  • A cyber-crime reporting portal was launched on 20th September, 2018 for citizens to report obscene content.
  • MHA launched the “National Database on Sexual Offenders” (NDSO) on 20th September, 2018 to facilitate investigation and tracking of sexual offenders across the country.
  • MHA has launched an online analytic tool “Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences” to monitor and track time-bound investigation in sexual assault cases in accordance with Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.
  • MHA has notified guidelines for collection of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases and the standard composition in a sexual assault evidence collection kits. To facilitate adequate capacity in manpower, training and skill building programmes have been undertaken for Investigation Officers, Prosecution Officers and Medical Officers.
  • In order to improve investigation, MHA has taken steps to strengthen DNA analysis units in Central and State Forensic Science Laboratories.  A State-of-the-Art DNA Analysis Unit has been commenced in Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh on 23rd December 2019.
  • MHA has released Rs 200 crores to States/UTs for setting up and strengthening of Women Help Desks in police stations and Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all districts of the country.
  • Further, a national level communication platform – Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC) was launched by MHA on March 12, 2020. Cri-MAC facilitates dissemination of information about significant crimes, including human trafficking cases, across the country on real time basis and enables inter-State coordination.  The coordination mechanism available to Police Officers in all States and UTs through Cri-MAC is an efficient and fast enabling-tool for sharing information in a safe and secure manner, which helps in locating and identifying the victims as also in prevention, detection and investigation of crimes.


Four Point Plan chalked out by the department of Commerce to deal with Blockage of Suez Canal

(Topic: India and world)

In News: A giant container ship was stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal for nearly a week now, blocking way for other ships to pass. At present, the cargo ship has been successfully refloated in the Suez Canal.

A Panama-flagged ship, The Ever Given, that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground in the narrow canal that runs between Africa and the Sinai Peninsula. Authorities have been making all possible attempts to free the vessel and reopen the waterway, which is very crucial for global shipping. 

According to news reports, the blockage of the canal has resulted in a massive maritime traffic jam, causing delays in global shipment chain. According to official figures, some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year. Insurance company Allianz estimated that each day of the blockade was costing between $6-10 billion (€5-8.5 billion).

  • Prioritisation of cargo: FIEO, MPEDA and APEDA will jointly identify cargo particularly perishable cargo for priority movement and work with the shipping lines for the same.
  • Freight Rates: CSLA assured that the freight rates as per existing contracts will be honoured. A request has been made to the shipping lines to maintain stability in freight rates during the period of this crisis.  It was noted that the situation is temporary and is unlikely to have a long-lasting impact.
  • Advisory to Ports: Once the blockage is over, it is expected that some bunching may take place, especially at the ports of JNPT, Mundra and Hazira. Ministry of Ports, Shipping and waterway assured to issue an advisory to these ports so as to gear up arrangements and ensure efficient handling during the forthcoming busy period.
  • Re-routing decisions: Shipping lines were advised through CSLA to explore the option of re-routing of ships via the Cape of Good Hope. It was pointed that such re-routing usually takes 15 additional days’ time.

Launch of the U.S. India Artificial Intelligence (USIAI)

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Research, technology in artificial intelligence is being promoted and implemented in the country through a network of 25 technology hubs working as a triple helix set up under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS).

  • USIAI will serve as a platform to discuss opportunities, challenges, and barriers for bilateral AI R&D collaboration, enable AI innovation, help share ideas for developing an AI workforce, and recommend modes and mechanisms for catalyzing partnerships.
  • The U.S.-India AI Initiative will provide an opportunity for key stakeholder groups to share experiences, identify new R&D areas and opportunities that would benefit from synergistic activities, discuss the emerging AI landscape, and address the challenges of developing an AI workforce.
  • The ambitious flagship initiative, USIAI, leverages IUSSTF’s unique ability to bring together key stakeholders from India and the United States to create synergies that address challenges and opportunities at the interface of science, technology, and society. Over the next year, IUSSTF will conduct a series of roundtables and workshops to gather input from different stakeholder communities and prepare White Papers that identify technical, research, infrastructure, and workforce opportunities and challenges, and domain-specific opportunities for R&D in healthcare, smart cities, materials, agriculture, energy, and manufacturing.

India and the US can complement each other in this collaborative effort to ensure equitable progress – 

For the US, India represents a massive consumer market – and one of the world’s largest troves of data. Technology firms in the US accessing this data will be like energy firms finding oil in the Middle East. 

For India, the US algorithms are solutions to a variety of development challenges India faces, from bringing banking to hundreds of millions of people to modernising the Indian military to offering healthcare to the masses. At the same time, for US technology firms, India churns out massive amounts of engineers and computer scientists – critical talent that these firms need.

Another major reason for a partnership between India and the US is the new geopolitical realities. China’s growing influence in the field of AI is a pressing concern. What India and the US bring to the table is what is a supposedly democratic governance model of emerging technology. Despite the change in administration from Trump to Biden, there are certain things where there is continuity – like distrust in China and Chinese technology. There is a clear desire to ensure that supply chains are governed by standards, rules, and norms of the democratic world.

Both countries are leveraging AI and other emerging technologies to improve their relationships and gain a geopolitical edge. 

Think: Technology is underpinning the future of relations between nations.

Cabinet approves 

Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed between India and Japan in the field of Water Resources: This MoC was signed for development of a long-term cooperation in the field of Water and Delta management, and Water technology in order to increase the exchange of information, knowledge, technology and scientific allied experience, as well as implementation of joint projects between the two countries. This MoC will help in achieving water security, improved irrigation facility and sustainability in water resources development.

Signing of an MoU between Union Public Service Commission, India and Independent Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Commission, Afghanistan

The MoU will strengthen the relationship between IARCSC and UPSC. It will facilitate sharing of experience and expertise of both the parties in the area of recruitment.

  • Exchange of experience on modern approach to public service recruitment and selection, particularly the functions of the UPSC and the IARCSC.
  • Exchange of information and expertise including books, manuals and other documents which are not of a confidential nature.
  • Sharing of expertise in the use of Information Technology (IT) in the preparation of written examinations and holding of Computer Based Recruitment Tests and Online Examinations.
  • Sharing of experience in Single Window System for expeditious scrutiny and speedy disposal of applications.
  • Sharing of experience and expertise on various processes involved in examination system.
  • Organize training sessions for officials, including short attachments to the Parties’ secretariat/headquarters on all matters concerned by the respective mandate of the parties.
  • Sharing of experience on the modalities adopted on adult of processes and procedures followed by various Government Agencies in recruitment of posts under the delegated power.


Launch of ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan:Catch the Rain’ campaign

(Topic: Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain’ campaign for conserving water and stressed that every penny of MGNREGA funds be spent on rain water conservation till the monsoon arrives. Addressing an event at the virtual launch of the campaign on the World Water Day, Modi said it is a matter of concern that majority of rain water in India gets wasted. He said the more the rain water is conserved, the less will be the dependence on groundwater.

  • India’s self-sufficiency is dependent on its water resources and water connectivity, and its fast-paced development is not possible without effective water conservation.
  • People should use water judiciously.

The Campaign

The ‘Catch the Rain’ campaign will be undertaken across the country, in both rural and urban areas. 

  • Timeline: It will be implemented from March 22 to November 30 – the pre-monsoon and monsoon period in the country.
  • Aim: The campaign aims to take water conservation at grass-root level through people’s participation. It is intended to nudge all stakeholders to create rainwater harvesting structures suitable to the climatic conditions and subsoil strata, to ensure proper storage of rainwater.
  • After the event, Gram Sabhas will be held in all Gram Panchayats of each district (except in the poll-bound states) to discuss issues related to water and water conservation.
  • Gram Sabhas will also take ‘Jal Shapath’ for water conservation.

‘Buldhana Pattern’ for Water Conservation

(Topic: Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)

NITI Aayog has prepared draft guidelines for convergence of the activities of (i) sourcing earth for improvement/construction of national highways, state roads and railways and (ii) water conservation works through desiltation/ deepening of water bodies. This two-fold activity has already been successfully implemented as a pilot project in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra state.

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India has also issued a letter to all States/UTs and project/construction agencies in 2017 conveying that contractors/construction agencies responsible for construction of National Highways should excavate the earth as per their project requirements from such identified water bodies/areas at no cost to the village panchayats/ rural development departments/water conservation departments and transport the same to their project sites. 

Similarly, the panchayats/water conservation departments of the states should not charge any amount from the agencies for the earth so excavated. Through this arrangement, gram panchayats/farmers will gain by having a pond/water body dug in their land at no cost which will help in restoration of such water bodies while the construction agency would get the material for embankments for its road building and road expansion projects free of cost.

National Biopharma Mission entitled: “Industry-Academia Collaborative Mission for Accelerating Discovery Research to Early Development for Biopharmaceuticals – Innovate in India Empowering biotech entrepreneurs & accelerating inclusive innovation”

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Objectives of the Mission:

  • Development of products from leads that are at advanced stages in the product development lifecycle and relevant to the public health.
  • Strengthening and establishing shared infrastructure facilities for both product discovery validation and manufacturing
  • Developing human capital by providing specific training to address the critical skills gaps in researchers, nascent biotech companies across the product development value chain, including in business plan development and market penetration.
  • Creating and enhancing technology transfer and intellectual property management capacities and capabilities in public and private sector.

Specific targets for the Mission, over a period of five years, include: 

  • Development of 5 biopharma products – Vaccines, biotherapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics
  • Establishment of shared infrastructure and facilities such as GLP Validation and Reference Lab, CMC facilities; 
  • Med-Tech validation facility; 
  • Consortia for translational and interdisciplinary research, process development, development of cell lines and expression systems; Clinical trial networks; 
  • Setting up and establishment of technology transfer offices in public and private sector
  • Imparting trainings for technical and non-technical skill development

To promote innovation for inclusiveness, the Mission is strengthening the ecosystem for affordable product development through the following: 

  • Development of vaccine candidates for Cholera, Influenza, Dengue, Chikungunya and Pneumococcal disease, Rabies and COVID-19; 
  • Biosimilar products for Diabetes, Psoriasis, Cancer; Diagnostic kits; 
  • Med Tech Devices for Imaging, Pumps for dialysis and MRI scanners; 
  • Supporting shared facilities for Biopharmaceutical development (10), Med Tech device development (9) and Vaccine Development (2); 
  • Establishment of hospital based and field site based Clinical Trial Networks for clinical trials of vaccines and bio-therapeutics; 
  • Supporting Translational Research Consortia (TRC) for infectious diseases to accelerate vaccine development efforts; 
  • Support for 7 Technology Transfer Offices for promoting entrepreneurship; 
  • Imparting trainings to address the critical skill gaps among the nascent biotech companies in areas such as Product development, intellectual property registration, technology transfer and regulatory standards

Novel technique for tracking solar eruptions that disrupt space weather to be used in India’s first solar mission

(Topic: Space technology)

Scientists have developed a new technique to track the huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun, disrupting space weather and causing geomagnetic storms, satellite failures, and power outages.

As the ejections from the Sun, technically called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), cause various disturbances of the space environment, forecasting their arrival time is very important. However, forecasting accuracy is hindered by limited CME observations in interplanetary space.

Software named Computer Aided CME Tracking Software (CACTus) based on a computer vision algorithm was so far used to detect and characterise such eruptions automatically in the outer corona where these eruptions cease to show accelerations and propagate with a nearly constant speed.

However, this algorithm could not be applied to the inner corona observations due to the vast acceleration experienced by these eruptions. This severely limited the capability to track the eruptions as CMEs accelerate in the lower corona. Moreover, with the advancement in space technology, there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of data obtained from spacecraft. To identify and track the solar eruptions in huge number of images can become tedious if done manually.

New clue about how particles self-assemble can pave the way for understanding dynamics in living cells

(Topic: Science and Technology) 

Scientists have now found a clue to determine how self-assembled structures can be made using a strange class of particles that do not interact and have non-superimposable mirror images (chiral).

Molecular chirality is encoded in the static structure of building units of particles. It is well known that it results in interactions that are stereoselective. However, in many systems, chirality can be associated with how the particles move.

Whether such chiral activity can introduce stereoselective interactions between particles is still unknown to scientists.  By investigating the role of chiral activity, a group of scientists have for the first time shown that objects can self-recognize even when their shape is not chiral.  Further, they report spontaneous dimerization into two types of dimers- ‘movers’ and ‘spinners’.

Chiral active matter is ubiquitous in nature, and numerous biological systems possess some degree of chiral activity. The present study could thus pave the way towards understanding dynamics in living cells and their assemblies. However, in biological systems, precisely tuning chiral activity is very difficult and how precisely it affects the emergent dynamics is not clear.

Prelims oriented news

World Water Day: 22nd March

Shaheedi Diwas: 23rd March

World Meteorological Day: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav – On 23rd March

World Tuberculosis Day: 24th March 

World Theatre Day: 27th March

Third phase of Indian Beamline for Materials Research in Japan initiated focusing on industrial application research: Set up under India-Japan Scientific and Technological Cooperation

  • The phase would increase the number of young researchers from India to be trained in advanced X-ray techniques of material research. Besides, steps will be taken to allocate more beamtime so that more researchers can get access to it. At present, only 50 % of Indian researchers who apply receive beamtime.   
  • In the first phase (2009-2015) of this project, an X-ray beamline (BL18B) was constructed by SINP in PF, and over the years, this facility has provided substantial amount of quality beamtime for the use of Indian scientists to carry out front-ranking research in advanced materials including nano materials.

India’s Vande Bharat mission: India’s massive evacuation programme triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has brought back over 67.5 Lakh people from abroad.

Exercise Desert Flag –VI successfully culminated today with de-induction of the Indian contingent from UAE. It is an annual multi-lateral large force employment exercise hosted by UAE.

  • To expose coalition participating forces to large force employment, sharpen tactical capabilities, and enhance interoperability along with fostering closer relations between the participating forces. 
  • The aim for the participating crew and specialist observers was to expose them to operational environment in scenarios requiring multinational forces working together.

Ānandam: The Center for Happiness in IIM Jammu – Incorporating happiness in academic curriculum crucial towards empowering our nation. The Center for Happiness aligns with the National Education Policy 2020, aims to achieve holistic well-being for all

NITI Aayog Releases Report ‘Investment Opportunities in India’s Healthcare Sector’: Outlines the range of investment opportunities in various segments of India’s healthcare sector, including hospitals, medical devices and equipment, health insurance, telemedicine, home healthcare and medical value travel. India’s healthcare industry has been growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of around 22% since 2016. At this rate, it is expected to reach USD 372 billion in 2022. Healthcare has become one of the largest sectors of the Indian economy, in terms of both revenue and employment. Read the Report

Jal Jeevan Mission deploys first-of-its-kind sensor-based IoT devices to monitor rural drinking water supply systems: To monitor the rural drinking water supply systems in villages, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has decided to take the digital route to usesensor-based IoT devices to effectively monitor the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in more than six lakh villages.

The Internet of Things (IoT) based remote monitoring provides near real-time information without any manual intervention by using sensors. This would not only allow effective monitoring and management on-ground, but also enable real-time visibility to State water supply/ PHED officials, and citizens. With a futuristic vision to ensure regular tap water to every home, real-time measurement and monitoring is critical for rural drinking water supply schemes, with enormous gains in terms of operational efficiencies, cost reduction, grievance redressal, etc. Data will drive improvement in service delivery and instill transparency for precious natural asset such as water. Thus, making a strong social and economic case for deployment of such a system.

Indo-Korean Friendship Park Inaugurated: Located in Delhi Cantonment, the park’s significance is not only because of it being a symbol of strong India-South Korea friendly relations, but also as a monument to India’s contributions as part of 21 countries which participated in Korean war 1950-53, under the aegis of the United Nations. The park has been developed in joint consultation with Ministry of Defence, Government of India, Indian Army, Delhi Cantonment Board, Embassy of Korea and Korean War Veterans Association of India.

  • The park also has a larger than life statue of General KS Thimayya, a celebrated soldier who led the Indian contingent as Chairman of Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC) in Korea headed by India. The commission, through Custodian Force of India (CFI), was responsible for gathering unrepatriated prisoners of war into camps which was also India’s first commitment to a UN assignment after independence. 
  • The five pillars raised in the backdrop of General Thimayya’s statue are embossed with details of operations carried out by 60 Parachute Field Ambulance during the Korean war where they had treated about 1,95,000 cases, and performed about 2,300 field surgeries. 
  • One pillar also encompasses Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s narration of Korea as “The Lamp of the East” which was published in Korean daily “Dong-A-llbo” in 1929.

Launch of Certified E-Tendering Portal “PRANIT”: By Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID), a central PSU under Ministry of Power – will lead to less paperwork and ease of operation, making the tendering process more transparent.

Amended TUFS (ATUFS) Scheme: To adopt innovative new technology in all the sub-sectors of textiles industry except Spinning by way of one time Capital Investment Subsidy (CIS) for eligible benchmarked machinery for a period of seven years from 2015-16 to 2021-22. The scheme aims to promote ease of doing business in the country, achieve the vision of generating employment and promoting exports through “Make in India’’ with “Zero effect and Zero defect” in manufacturing and promoting domestic textile clusters.

100+ Curriculum based Comic books launched: These comics can be accessed online on DIKSHA web portal (diksha.gov.in) or via the DIKSHA app. To provide holistic learning to students and to usher in vision envisaged in New Education Policy 2020 has launched comic books aligned to chapters of NCERT textbooks across grades 3-12. He further said that this innovative initiative will help in increasing the cultural and social sensitivity in our children while imparting knowledge.

  • Each comic has been divided into smaller topics supported by worksheets and it dovetails with the learning objectives and outcomes.
  • It has been created in a linear progression which will help to understand basic concepts and decrease the learning gaps.
  • While deconstructing the academic content; care has been taken to address issues of gender sensitivity, women empowerment, value education among other life skills.

100 Years of First Visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Odisha: On 23rd March, 1921 – It energized the Non-Cooperation movement and strengthened the cause of freedom struggle. During the visit of Mahatma Gandhi, large section of youth participated in the movement and women folk regularly spun Charkha and propagated the use of Khadi. Clothes of foreign origin were abandoned. Such was the magical presence of Mahatma Gandhi that Odisha woke up from slumber and plunged itself in the national movement.

National Talent Search Portal (NTSP): With an aim to attract talented sports persons from all over the country, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports through Sports Authority of India (SAI) has launched National Talent Search Portal (NTSP). The NTSP allows access to the talented sportspersons from any part of the country to upload their online applications in their desired sports discipline for admission in Sports Centres run by SAI under its various sport’s promotional schemes.

NAFED e- Kisan Mandis: NAFED e-Kisan mandis (NeKM) is electronic trading platform with physical infra-structure at each proposed location in partnership with local Farmer Producer Organisations (FPCx and Cooperatives) to be integrated with a National Level Digital Marketing Platform. The mandi has both physical and virtual infrastructure and it is based on spoke & hub model. The physical infra-structure will include digital platform with auctioning facility, pack-house (including sorting-grading, packing and pre-cooling facilities), warehouse and cold storages if required. FPOs will get funding support through Agriculture Infra-structure Fund (AIF) and subsidies available under various Central and State Government schemes. The mandis are made at farm gate brining buyers to farmers.

National Film Award 2019

Best Feature Film on Social Issues: Marathi Film Anandi Gopal

  • Follows the life of India’s first female doctor, Anandi Gopal. 
  • The story revolves around her and her husband Gopalrao Joshi who encouraged her to study medicine. 
  • She went on to study at the Woman’s Medical College, Pennsylvania in the late 19th century and graduated with an MD in 1886.
  • The film also bagged award for the Best Production Design.

Most Film Friendly State: Sikkim

Best Non-Feature Film: An Engineered Dream

Best Feature Film: Marakkar-Arabikkadalinte-Simham

Best Children’s Film award: Kastoori

Best Arts and Culture Film: Shrikshetra- Ru-Sahijata

Gandhi Peace Prize for Year 2020: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Gandhi Peace Prize for the Year 2019: (Late) His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman (a visionary leader whose twin policy of moderation and mediation in addressing international issues won him praise and respect across the globe. He played an important role in supporting peace efforts in various regional disputes and conflicts. H.M. Sultan Qaboos was the architect of the special ties between India and Oman)

  • Gandhi Peace Prize is an annual award instituted by Government of India since 1995, the 125th Birth Anniversary commemoration year of Mahatma Gandhi. The award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or sex.
  • The Jury for Gandhi Peace Prize is chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister, Sh Narendra Modi ,and comprises  of two ex-officio members, namely the Chief Justice of India and  Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha.

National Portal FOR Transgender Persons: Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has e-launched the National Portal for Transgender persons 

  • So far, 1915 Transgender Persons have applied for Certificate of Identity and Identity Cards. Out of 1695 valid applications, 277 Certificates of identity and Identity Cards have been issued. 220 applications have been rejected due to insufficient/invalid documents or being Duplicate applications.
  • National Portal for Transgender Persons which provides for the procedure for identification certificates issued by the District Magistrate has been established and is functional in all districts of the country.
  • As per the Census 2011, there are 4,87,803 persons under the category called ‘Other’ .

One District One Product Scheme: To reap the benefits of scale in terms of procurement of inputs, availing common services and marketing of products. 

ODOP for the scheme has framework for value chain development and alignment of support infrastructure. This scheme is being implemented for a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crores.

Identifying district specific products would lead to the following benefits to the micro food processing entrepreneurs:

  • Increased access to credit by existing Micro Food Processing entrepreneurs, FPOs, Self Help Groups and Co-operatives;
  • Integration with organized supply chain by strengthening branding & marketing;

Support for transition of existing 2,00,000 enterprises into formal framework:

  • Increased access to common services like common processing facility, laboratories, storage, packaging, marketing and incubation services;
  • Strengthening of institutions, research and training in the food processing sector; and
  • Empowers SC, ST and Women Entrepreneurs as the scheme lays special focus on SC, ST and women entrepreneurs.

Increased access for the enterprises, to professional and technical support: The scheme envisages strengthening backward and forward linkages, provision of common facilities, incubation centres, training, research and development (R&D), marketing and branding. The enhanced capacity of processing and value addition in agriculture and allied sector products will lead to a better price realization for the farmers. The identified products have potential for both domestic demand and export and will be promoted in a cluster approach through the converged resources of the Government of India.

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana-Saubhagya are being implemented across the country for various rural electrification works and electrification of the remaining un-electrified households in rural and urban areas, including NER and State of Meghalaya. All the inhabited census villages and households of Garo hills have been electrified. Under North Eastern Region Power System Improvement Project (NERPSIP) scheme, 14 power projects are under implementation in Garo hills.

Climate Data Service Portal: Developed for climate data management and supply to the users. It complements fully automated climate data management process from real-time data acquisition to expeditious data dissemination.

  • Real-Time monitoring of weather observations recorded by IMD Observatories.
  • Encapsulated IMD Metadata Portal, other reports and dashboards
  • Online access to meteorological data through Data Supply Portal.
  • Free download facility for Gridded Temperature and Rainfall Data of India.
  • Climatological Tables, Extremes and Normal.
  • Information on Monsoon Rainfall and Cyclone frequencies.
  • Data analytics and info graphics.

Performance Evaluation of e-National Agriculture Market

As on 14th May, 2020, farmers have transacted over Rs 1 Lakh crore on the e-NAM platform with a trade volume of 3.43 crore tones of commodities and 38.16 Lakh bamboo and coconuts.

  • Integration of additional 415 mandis with e-NAM, taking the total number of mandis to 1000 across 18 states and 3 UTs, thus bringing more markets access to farmers to sell their agriculture produce.
  • FPO trading module has been launched whereby FPOs can trade their produce from their collection center/ premise without bringing the produce to APMC.
  • Warehouse based trading module is provided in e-NAM to facilitate trade from warehouses based on e-NWR
  • Further the e-NAM platform is made inter operable with Rashtriya e Market Services Private Limited (ReMS) platform of Government of Karnataka which will facilitate famers of either platforms were can sell their produce in other platform thereby increasing their market access.
  • GPS Based e-NAM Mandi Locator: Farmers / Sellers can locate their nearby e-NAM mandi using GPS based mandi locator feature through e-NAM mobile app. This will helps the farmers to easily locate and reach the selected mandis and sell their agri-produce.
  • Integration with AGMARKNET platform: Farmer can access the prevailing commodity prices & arrival information of e-NAM mandi as well as non e-NAM mandi on e-NAM mobile app. prior to even going to the mandi.
  • e-NAM portal is available in English and 11 Indian languages (Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Odiya, Dogri, Malayalam and Kannada) to facilitate farmers to use e-NAM in the language of their choice.

Progress under National Health Mission (NHM) 2019-20

New Initiatives in 2019-20:

  • Social Awareness and Actions to Neutralize Pneumonia Successfully (SAANS) initiative was launched to accelerate action to reduce deaths due to childhood pneumonia.
  • SurakshitMatritvaAashwasan (SUMAN) initiative was launched to provide assured, dignified, respectful and quality healthcare at no cost and zero tolerance for denial of services and all existing Schemes for maternal and neonatal health have been brought under one umbrella.
  • Midwifery Services Initiative aims to create a cadre of Nurse Practitioners in Midwifery who are skilled in accordance to competencies prescribed by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and are knowledgeable and capable of providing compassionate women-centered, reproductive, maternal and newborn health care services.
  • School Health and Wellness Ambassadors Initiative has been launched under the AB-HWCs Programme in partnership with Ministry of Education to promote health and well-being through an active lifestyle amongst school children.


  • Reduce MMR to 1/1000 live births
  • Reduce IMR to 25/1000 live births
  • Reduce TFR to 2.1
  • Reduce prevalence of Leprosy to < 1 /10000 population and incidence to zero in all districts
  • Annual Malaria Incidence to be <I/1000
  • Prevent and reduce mortality &morbidity from communicable, non-communicable; injuries and emerging diseases
  • Reduce household out-of-pocket expenditure on total health care expenditure
  • Ending the TB epidemic by 2025 from the country

India has crossed a Key Milestone in Universal Primary Healthcare

  • Target of Operationalizing 70,000 Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) achieved Ahead of Time
  • About 41.35 crore people have accessed primary healthcare services at the AB-HWCs
  • More than 9.45 lakh Tele-consultations done at the HWCs

Expanded Service Packages provided under AB-HWC are as follows:

  • Care in Pregnancy and Child Birth.
  • Neonatal and Infant health care services.
  • Childhood and Adolescent health care services.
  • Family planning, contraceptive services and other reproductive health care services
  • Management of communicable diseases: National Health programmes
  • General out-patient care for acute simple illnesses and minor ailments
  • Screening, prevention, control and management of non-communicable diseases and chronic communicable diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy
  • Basic oral health care
  • Screening and basic management of mental Health ailments
  • Care for common ophthalmic and ENT problem
  • Elderly and palliative health care services
  • Emergency medical services including burns and trauma

Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh

The temples at Khajuraho are all made of sandstone. They were patronized by the Chandella dynasty.


  • Kandariya Temple
  • Mahadev Temple
  • Devi Jagadamba Temple
  • Chitragupta Temple
  • Vishwanatha Temple
  • Parvati Temple
  • Lakshmana or Chaturbhuja Temple: dedicated to Vishnu is the grandest temple of Khajuraho, built in 954 by the Chandela king, Dhanga
  • Varaha Temple
  • Chaunsat Yogini Temple

General features: 

  • Built of buff sandstone from quarries of Panna 
  • Soft texture and pleasing color 
  • High terraces 
  • Panchayatana architecture 
  • Circumambulatory path 
  • Jain Temples – Parshvanatha and Ghantai temple
  • Khajuraho’s temples are also known for their extensive erotic sculptures; the erotic expression is given equal importance in human experience as spiritual pursuit, and it is seen as part of a larger cosmic whole. 
  • Many Hindu temples therefore feature mithun (embracing couple) sculptures, considered auspicious.
  • Usually, they are placed at the entrance of the temple or on an exterior wall or they may also be placed on the walls between the mandapa and the main shrine.
  • The other notable example at Khajuraho is Kandariya Mahadeo temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • There are many temples at Khajuraho, most of them devoted to Hindu gods.
  • There are some Jain temples as well as a Chausanth Yogini temple, which is of interest. Predating the tenth century, this is a temple of small, square shrines of roughly-hewn granite blocks, each dedicated to esoteric devis or goddesses associated with the rise of Tantric worship after the seventh century.
  • Several such temples were dedicated to the cult of the yoginis across Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.
  • Khajuraho complex of temples is yet another excellent example of sculptures representing women in different roles. For example on Kandariya laxmana temple we can see a women with a purse in hand purchasing stuff from market showcases economic independence and her ability to make choice.
  • Also Khajuraho is famous for erotic sculptures, where we can see women are supremely confident when it comes to exploring their sexuality. Practice of polyandry is evident on temple walls

Lakshamana Temple in Khajuraho

  • The temples at Khajuraho are all made of sandstone. They were patronised by the Chandella dynasty.
  • The Lakshamana temple represents the full-fledged, developed style of temple architecture during the time of the Chandellas. Its construction was completed by 954, the year as per the inscription found at the base of the temple, by Yashovarman, the seventh ruler of the Chandella dynasty.
  • The temple plan is of a panchayana type.
  • The temple is constructed on a heavy plinth. It consists of an ardhamandapa (porch), mandapa (porch), the maha mandapa (greater hall) and the garbhagriha with vimana.
  • Many erotic sculptures are carved on the plinth wall. Some erotic sculptures are carved on the actual wall of the temple.
  • An image of Chaturmukha Vishnu is in the garbhagriha.
  • There are four shrines in each corner of the temple. There are images of Vishnu in three shrines and Surya in one, which can be identified by the central image on the lintel of the shrine-doors.

Markandeshwar temple: Known as the “Khajuraho of Vidarbha”,the temple of Markandadeo is situated on the bank of River Wainganga in district Gadchiroli of Maharashtra. The temples belong to the Nagara group of temples of North India. On stylistic grounds, their date ranges in between 9-12th centuries CE. The temples belong to saiva, vaishnava and sakta faith. Most of the temples have a simple plan, with ardhamandapa, mandapa, antarala and garbhagriha forming the component of the entire set up.

Stories of Madurai

Madurai, one of the oldest living cities, holds the soul of Tamil Nadu in its magnificent and grand temples that are among the finest and most awe-inspiring specimens of architecture in the country. 

The most spectacular of these is the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple, which is the heartbeat of the city and is visited by thousands of devotees. 

Madurai once traded with ancient Rome and it preserves its distinct character in various arts and textiles that have been bestowed by the Pandian kings (4th century-16th century). Legend has it that king Kulasekhara once dreamt of Lord Shiva, from whose hair, drops of sweet madhu(nectar) rolled down on earth. The point where they fell was known as Madhurapuri. Earlier known as Madhurapuri and Thoonga Nagaram, meaning a city that never sleeps, Madurai grew around the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which was constructed 2,500 years ago by Pandian king, Kulasekhara. Popularly called the Athens of the East, it was visited by Greek explorer, Megasthenes in 3rd century BC. Other famous travellers who visited this ancient south Indian city included Pliny in 77 AD, Ptolemy in 140 AD, Marco Polo in 1203 AD and Ibn Batuta(1333 AD).

One of the largest temple complexes in India, Sri Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple is the most famous spiritual site in Madurai. An excellent example of Dravidian architecture, the temple is sprawled over a huge area, bordered by well-laid gardens and pristine fountains. Two shrines, more than 10 gateways or gopurams, several mandapas (halls) and a giant pool, make up the structure of the temple, which is adorned with beautiful carvings inside and outside. One of the halls of the temple is famous as the “Hall of a 1,000 pillars” though only 985 of them exist today. It is said that whichever direction you view these pillars from, they always seem to be in a straight line. The highlight of the temple is the outermost corridor that comprises musical pillars. These produce different musical notes when tapped. While one of the sanctorum, Sundareswarar, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the other is devoted to Goddess Meenakshi, his consort.

Madurai is also well known for its exquisite sarees to wooden toys and sculptures. It is also referred as hub of shopping, where visitors can find a fine selection of unique and handmade products. 

Personality in News

Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia

  • An activist for the Indian independence movement and a socialist political leader
  • One of the founders of the Congress Socialist Party and editor of its mouthpiece Congress Socialist
  • Wrote his PhD thesis paper on the topic of Salt Taxation in India, focusing on Gandhi’s socio-economic theory.
  • Also wrote – ‘Marx, Gandhi and Socialism’, ‘Guilty Men of India’s Partition’, etc.

Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, and Sukhdev Thapar: 

  • Three most shining icons of the country’s freedom struggle
  • They were the three unparalleled revolutionaries in history
  • The trio, were members of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association


  1. Defined nation and nationalism: At a young age, Bhagat Singh defined nation and nationalism for us.
  2. On Universal Brotherhood: At age 17, he published his first article (in 1924) in Matwala, a Hindi magazine from Calcutta. The subject was ‘Universal Brotherhood’.
  • He imagined a world where “all of us being one and none is the other. It will really be a comforting time when the world will have no strangers.”
  • He emphatically exclaimed that “as long as words like black and white, civilized and uncivilized, ruler and the ruled, rich and poor, touchable and untouchable, etc., are in vogue there was no scope for universal brotherhood”.
  • He went on to say, “We will have to campaign for equality and equity. Will have to punish those who oppose the creation of such a world.”

(Today, when many are busy “othering” and creating strangers out of their own fellow citizens need to grapple with Bhagat Singh’s views, instead of merely glorifying him as a martyr.)

  1. Strongest critique of untouchability and communalism:
  • He wrote series of articles on ‘Anarchism’ and was fiercely frank and bold enough to critically comment on the politics of senior leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai and express his differences.
  • He was also conscious of the international revolutionary struggles and ideologies.
  • He was aghast that we claimed to be a spiritual country, yet discriminated against fellow human beings while the materialist West had done away with such inhuman obscenities long ago.

(Even today, untouchability and communalism continue to torment us as a nation.)

  1. On inclusiveness:
  • Bhagat Singh steadfastly remained committed to the idea of a plural and inclusive India.
  • He founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in Lahore in 1926, whose manifesto said, “Religious superstitions and bigotry are a great hindrance in our progress. They have proved an obstacle in our way and we must do away with them. ‘The thing that cannot bear free thought must perish’.”
  • In 1928, Bhagat Singh was acutely conscious of the divisiveness of mixing religion with politics.
  • He wrote – “If religion is separated from politics, then all of us can jointly initiate political activities, even though in matters of religion we might have many differences with each other. We feel that the true well-wishers of India would follow these principles and save India from the suicidal path it is on at present.”
  • He even had authored masterly essay, ‘Why I am an Atheist’. Bhagat Singh observed: “Our retrogressive thinking is destroying us. We keep ourselves entangled in futile discussions about God and heaven, and remain busy in talking about the soul and God. We are quick to dub Europe as capitalist and don’t think about their great ideas or pay any attention to them. We love divinity and remain aloof from the world.”

(Even today, many continue to peddle religion to promote political prospects.)

Thus we can see here the evolution of his ideas on politics, society, religion and even faith in god.

  • The lessons from the lives of these revolutionaries remain as relevant today as they were during the independence movement.
  • Their lives are proof that one is never too young to be politically aware, to educate oneself about the truth of the world at large, and to actively play a role in shaping the society one wants to live in.
  • In these rancorous times, Bhagat Singh’s intellectual bequest should be a beacon to build a new India.

Chandra Shekhar Azad

Chandrashekhar Azad was a great Indian freedom fighter. His fierce patriotism and courage inspired others of his generation to enter freedom struggle. He was the mentor of Bhagat Singh, another great freedom fighter, and along with Bhagat Singh he is considered as one of the greatest revolutionaries that India has produced.

As a revolutionary

‘Azad’: In December 1921, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement, Chandra Shekhar, then a 15-year-old student, joined. As a result, he was arrested. On being presented before a magistrate, he gave his name as “Azad” (The Free), his father’s name as “Swatantrata” (Independence) and his residence as “Jail”. From that day he came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad among the people.

Became famous for: Involved in the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925, in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy of India’s train in 1926, and at last the shooting of J. P. Saunders at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat RaiThe Colt pistol of Chandra Shekhar Azad is displayed at the Prayagraj Museum

What inspired him: The Jallianwala Bagh tragedy which took place in 1919 was when he decided to join the Non-Cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920.

Formed: He was the chief strategist of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

He inspired: Bhagat Singh

Chandrashekhar Azad was attracted towards more aggressive and revolutionary ideals. He committed himself to complete independence by any means. Azad and his compatriots would target British officials known for their oppressive actions against ordinary people and freedom fighters.

A terror for British police: He was on their hit list and the British police badly wanted to capture him dead or alive. On February 27, 1931 Azad met two of his comrades at the Alfred Park Allahabad. He was betrayed by an informer who had informed the British police. The police surrounded the park and ordered Azad to surrender. Azad fought alone valiantly and killed three policemen. But finding himself surrounded and seeing no route for escape, he shot himself. Thus he kept his pledge of not being caught alive.

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