- Article 342 A empowers the President to specify socially and educationally backward classes in various states and union territories.
- He can do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned State. However, law enacted by Parliament will be required if the list of backward classes is to be amended.
- 102nd Constitution amendment Act of 2018 inserted Article 338B and 342A.
- Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program, better known as SVEEP
- SVEEP is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India.
- SVEEP’s primary goal is to build a truly participative democracy in India by encouraging all eligible citizens to vote and make an informed decision during the elections.
Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991
- Recently, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
- Passed in 1991 by the P V Narasimha Rao-led government, the law seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 — except in the case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.
- The law was brought in at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, exactly a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
- The act prohibits conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- Sections (3) and (4) : Religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947 and that no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
- The Act also exempted any place of worship that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site, or is covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
102nd Constitutional Amendment, 2018
- The 102nd amendment deals with the constitutional status of the National Commission for Backward Classes.
- Article 338B deals with the structure, duties and powers of the commission while 342-A speaks about the power of the Indian President to notify a class as Socially and Educationally Backward (SEBC) and the power of Parliament to alter the central SEBC list.
International Women’s Day
- In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen.
- A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day.
- She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands.
- On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 23, the last Sunday in February.
- Following discussions, International Women’s Day was agreed to be marked annually on March 8 that translated in the widely adopted Gregorian calendar from February 23 – and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since.
- According to the UN, the theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
- The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge.
- It indicates that a “challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change”.
Schemes in news
- Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Government of India.
- It aims to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendras known as Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendra.
- PMBJPK has been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs.
- It was launched by the ministry of health and family welfare.
- Aim: To ensure safety and well-being of children , provide Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services.
- It is a scheme to promote breastfeeding and thereby reduce infant mortality.
National Social Assistance Programme
- The National Social Assistance Programme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Government of India.
- It provides financial assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.
- Ministry: Ministry of Rural Development
- NSAP comprises of five schemes, namely:
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS).
- Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS).
- Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS).
- National Family Benefit Scheme NFBS)
National Small Savings Fund
- The National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) is a fund body, which pools money from various small saving schemes.
- NSSF was established in 1999 within the Public Account of India.
- It is administered by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, under the National Small Savings Fund (Custody and Investment) Rules, 2001, derived from Article 283(1) of the Constitution.
- The pool from all such schemes are credited to the NSSF and withdrawals under small saving schemes by depositors are made from this Fund.
- The money parked in the NSSF is used by the Centre and states to finance their fiscal deficit, while the balance is invested in central and state government securities.
Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN)
- PMSSN will be created as a single non-lapsable reserve fund for share of Health from the proceeds of Health and Education Cess levied under Section 136-b of Finance Act, 2007.
- Salient features : non-lapsable reserve fund for Health in the Public Account;
- Proceeds of share of health in the Health and Education Cess will be credited into PMSSN;
- Accruals into the PMSSN will be utilized for the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
- The bridge ‘Maitri Setu’ has been built over Feni river which flows between Indian boundary in Tripura State and Bangladesh.
- The name ‘Maitri Setu’ symbolizes growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between India and Bangladesh.
- It is poised to herald a new chapter for trade and people to people movement between India and Bangladesh.
- With this inauguration, Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ with access to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh, which is just 80 Kms from Sabroom.
- The Shangri-La Dialogue is a “Track Two” inter-governmental security forum held annually by an independent think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
- It is attended by defense ministers, permanent heads of ministries and military chiefs of 28 Asia-Pacific states.
- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+) is a loosely affiliated entity consisting of the 13 OPEC members and 10 of the world’s major non-OPEC oil-exporting nations.
- OPEC+ aims to regulate the supply of oil in order to set the price on the world market.
- A larger group called OPEC+ was formed in late 2016 to have more control on the global crude oil market.
New Umbrella Entities(NUE)
- NUE will be a non-profit entity that will set-up, manage and operate new payment systems, especially in the retail space such as ATMs, white-label PoS; Aadhaar-based payments and remittance services.
- It will develop new payment methods, standards and technologies as well as operate clearing and settlement systems.
- Only those entities that are owned and controlled by Indian citizens with at least three years of experience in the payments segment can become promoters of NUEs.
- Foreign investment is allowed in NUEs as long as they comply with the existing guidelines.
- At present, many retail payment networks come under the aegis of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
- National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
- It is under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India.
- National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is incorporated as a not-for-profit under companies act , 1956 and is owned by many state-owned and private banks.
- The popular Unified Payments Interface or UPI, the Immediate Payment Service or IMPS, Bharat Bill Pay and the Aadhaar-enabled system are some of the retail payments operated by the NPCI.
- It refers to any electronic terminal rendering graphics or with some microprocessing capability independent from a host computer.
- Its sole purpose is to accept payments by chip, contactless or magnetic stripe.
- The terminal reads the credit or debit card (or mobile phone with the card saved in a digital wallet), then processes it over a secure internet connection.
- It typically finishes off by printing a receipt for the transaction to confirm the payment was successful or that it had failed.
Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA), 2019
- This report was published by the World Bank.
- Enabling the Business of Agriculture indicators assess whether governments make it easier or harder for farmers to operate their businesses.
- The indicators provide a tangible measure of progress and identify regulatory obstacles to market integration and entrepreneurship in agriculture.
- These include seed and fertilizer companies, phytosanitary offices, water management authorities, feed and veterinary medicine producers, pest control offices and warehouse operators.
MSP vs CIP
- Minimum Support Price (MSP) is the price at which the central government procures the foodgrains from farmers.
- Central Issue Price (CIP) is the price at which the government makes these food grains available to states. The states fix retail prices to be charged at fair price shops.
Science & Technology
Women Technology Parks (WTP)
- The Department of Science & Technology has been implementing a scheme ‘Science & Technology for Women’ with a view to empowering women through inputs of science and technology.
- The broad objectives of this scheme are to promote development and adaptation of appropriate technologies, transfer of proven technologies & demonstration of live technology models to benefit women.
- Women Technology Park is a technology modulation and a training centre to showcase livelihood technologies for women.
- Technology management packages are developed here to transfer to the rural women for their food security and livelihood generation.
- A large number of women receive hands – on training at the WTP.
- The organizations also constantly do research and developments in farmers’ field and modulate the technology packages to address location specific needs.
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API)
- API and it specifies the active ingredients in the drug. Finished formulation is the method used to mix ingredients to make a particular drug.
- API produces the intended effects to cure the disease.
- APIs, also called bulk drugs, are significant ingredients in the manufacture of drugs.
- The Hubei province of China is the hub of the API manufacturing industry.
Lunar Polar Exploration mission (LUPEX)
- LUPEX is a robotic lunar mission concept by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
- This would send a lunar rover and lander to explore the south pole region of the Moon in 2024.
- JAXA is likely to provide the under-development H3 launch vehicle and the rover, while ISRO would be responsible for the lander.
- The discovery of iron-bearing concretions is one of the most exciting discoveries in the recent past on Mars.
- A report on analog terrestrial site hosting hematite-bearing concretions belonging to Jhuran sandstone, Kutch, India is found to be of similar type.
- The Jhuran and Martian concretions share similar textural attributes and are of comparable size, but are geochemically different.
- Both show very good similarity between the Jhuran concretions and the “Martian blueberries”.
- The Jhuran concretions are most commonly mixtures of goethite and hematite, and not pure hematite.
- Caracal is a medium size wild cat with long black tufted ears, which is found in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- Fearing that this species might not survive for long, the Union Environment Ministry has now brought it into the ambit of the critically endangered species programme for taking up its conservation.
- With the inclusion of this species from the cat family, now there are a total 22 wildlife species, including snow leopard, bustard (including floricans), dolphin, hangul, nilgiri tahr, marine turtles, dugongs to name a few under recovery programme for critically-endangered species in the country.
- IUCN has listed it under ‘Least Concern’ these species as endangered as there is a huge population of caracal cats present in the African continent.
- In India, their number has gotten very low and hence they are considered endangered species.
- They are a rare species of the cat protected under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 found only in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Lafarge Mining Case
- In the above case, the Bench asked the Central government to appoint a National Regulator for appraising projects, enforcing environmental conditions for approvals and to impose penalties on polluters.
- It said: There is one more reason for having a regulatory mechanism in place. Identification of an area as forest area is solely based on the Declaration to be filed by the User Agency [project proponent].
- The project proponent under the existing dispensation is required to undertake EIA by an expert body/ institution.
- The Bench made it clear that till such a mechanism was put in place, the MoEF should prepare a panel of accredited institutions.
- This Panel from which the project proponent should obtain the Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and that too on the Terms of Reference to be formulated by the MoEF.
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
- Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- It provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- The National Air Monitoring Programme (NAMP) has been established with objectives to determine the present air quality status and trends and to control and regulate pollution from industries and other sources to meet the air quality standards.
- It also provides background air quality data needed for industrial siting and towns planning.
- The barasingha, also called swamp deer, is a deer species distributed in the Indian subcontinent.
- Populations in northern and central India are fragmented, and two isolated populations occur in southwestern Nepal.
- It is extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- Swamp deer occur in the Kanha National Park of Madhya Pradesh, in two localities in Assam, and in only 6 localities in Uttar Pradesh.
- In India, it is included under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
- IUCN status: Vulnerable.
- Bamboos are a diverse group of evergreen perennial flowering plants in the grass family Poaceae.
- Most bamboo species are native to warm and moist tropical and to warm temperate climates.
- However, many species are found in diverse climates, ranging from hot tropical regions to cool mountainous regions and highland cloud forests.
- Bamboos seldom and unpredictably flower and the frequency of flowering varies greatly from species to species.
- Once flowering takes place, a plant declines and often dies entirely. In fact, many species only flower at intervals as long as 65 or 120 years.
- These taxa exhibit mass flowering (or gregarious flowering), with all plants in a particular ‘cohort’ flowering over a several-year period.
Asiatic Water Buffalo
- The wild water buffalo, also called Asian buffalo, Asiatic buffalo and wild Asian buffalo, is a large bovine native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
- It has been listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List since 1986, as the remaining population totals less than 4,000.
- The global population has been estimated at 3,400 individuals, of which 3,100 (91%) live in India, mostly in Assam.
- The wild water buffalo occurs in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, and Cambodia, with an unconfirmed population in Myanmar.
- Its extirpated in Bangladesh, Laos, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.
- It is associated with wet grasslands, swamps, flood plains and densely vegetated river valleys.
- It is included in CITES Appendix III, and is legally protected in Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Thailand.
- INS Shardul is the lead ship of the Shardul-class amphibious warfare vessels of the Indian Navy.
- INS Shardul was deployed for Operation Samudra Setu, entered Porbandar harbour with 233 Indian Nationals onboard in the year 2020, who were earlier evacuated from Bandar Abbas port in Iran.
- For the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) participated in the Exercise Desert Flag-VI, hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force.
- It is an annual multinational large force employment warfare exercise which is hosted by UAE’s Air Force in the Gulf Region.
- Participants: The air forces of the UAE, India, United States of America, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Bahrain.
- The IAF has in the last five years participated in multilateral drills. These include in 2016 the American ‘Red Flag’; the Israeli ‘Blue Flag’ in 2017 and the Australian ‘Pitch Black’ drill in 2018.
Places in news
- The Feni river forms part of the India-Bangladesh border.
- It originates in the South Tripura district, passes through Sabroom town on the Indian side, and meets the Bay of Bengal after it flows into Bangladesh.
- Muhuri River, also called Little Feni, from Noakhali District joins it near its mouth.
- Zoji La is a high mountain pass in the Himalayas in the Indian union territory of Ladakh.
- Located in the Dras, the pass connects the Kashmir Valley to its west with the Dras and Suru valleys to its northeast and the Indus valley further east.
- Bandar-e ‘Abbās is a port city on the southern coast of Iran, on the Persian Gulf.
- The city occupies a strategic position on the narrow Strait of Hormuz, and it is the location of the main base of the Iranian Navy.
Gulf of Aden
- The Gulf of Aden also known as the Gulf of Berbera is a deepwater gulf between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the west, and the Guardafui Channel, Socotra, and Somaliland to the south.
- The Gulf of Aden is a vital waterway for shipping, especially for Persian Gulf oil, making it an integral waterway in the world economy.
- Approximately 11% of the world’s seaborne petroleum passes through the Gulf of Aden on its way to the Suez Canal or to regional refineries.
History & Culture
- Initially there was a connotation for the Upanishads comprising the Brahman Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.
- There are many schools of Vedanta including the well propagated schools of Advaita Vedanta, Vishishtadvaita, and Dvaita.
- It is a Sanskrit word meaning “end of knowledge”, a compound of two words “Veda” meaning “Knowledge” and “ Anta” meaning “End”
- Its essence is the philosophy of eternal living which leads to “Self- Realization”.
- Sufism as Tasawwuf is mysticism in Islam, “characterized by values, ritual practices,doctrines and institutions”.
- It is variously defined as “Islamic mysticism”,”the inward dimension of Islam” or “the phenomenon of mysticism within Islam”.
- Sufis have often belonged to different ṭuruq or “orders” – congregations formed around a grand master referred to as a wali who traces a direct chain of successive teachers back to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
- These orders meet for spiritual sessions (majalis) in meeting places known as zawiyas, khanqahs or tekke.
M.t Swarna krishna
- The all-women crew of onboard Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) vessel MT Swarna Krishna created history as this is the first time in the world maritime history that a ship is being sailed by all women officers.
- Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways, virtually flagged off the ‘All Women Officers’ Sailing’ on MT Swarna Krishna – SCI’s product.
- Kraft paper or paperboard produced from chemical pulp produced in the kraft process.
- Sack kraft paper, or just sack paper, is a porous kraft paper with high elasticity and high tear resistance, designed for packaging products with high demands for strength and durability.
- They are used in the manufacture of carbon box units.
Pulp and Paper Industry
- The pulp and paper industry comprises companies that use wood as raw material and produce pulp, paper, paperboard and other cellulose-based products.
- China is the world’s leading producer of paper.