Current affairs play a vital role in UPSC civil service exam preparation. The daily current affairs from the daily news’ are one of this important area. This section gives you a very brief summary of the important topics to be covered. You may use this section for revising your preparation. Nevertheless, we recommend you visit our daily current affairs section that gives a comprehensive analysis of the topics needed to be studied for the UPSC civil service exam.
1. STARS project agreement between DEA and World Bank
Agreement for the financial support of the implementation of Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project of Ministry of Education was signed between the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) and World Bank along with the Ministry of Education.
(Note: Such different topics are surfacing in the UPSC Exams. Highlighted points may be important for Prelims point of questions)
- STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education.
- The project covers 6 States viz Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, and Odisha. (Note: In exams, they may twist the statement mentioning STARS project covers entire India which is wrong. So, be careful on such intrinsic points)
1. National Marine Turtle Action Plan released
The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) released ‘Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines’ and ‘National Marine Turtle Action Plan’.
Marine Turtles in India:
Five species of sea turtles are known to inhabit Indian coastal waters and islands. These are:
- the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea),
- Green (Chelonia mydas),
- Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata),
- Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and
- the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) turtles.
1. India signs Strategic Partnership Agreement with IEA
The Framework for Strategic Partnership between the International Energy Agency (IEA) members and the Government of India was signed on 27th January 2021 to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation & enhance global energy security, stability, and sustainability.
- The IEA was established as the main international forum for energy co-operation on a variety of issues such as security of supply, long-term policy, information transparency, energy efficiency, sustainability, research and development, technology collaboration, and international energy relations.
2. CBIC celebrated International Customs Day
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) on 27th January 2021 observed the International Customs Day, 2021. The theme for this year as given by World Customs Organisation (WCO) is “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”.
- The World Customs Organization (WCO), established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.
1. Bharat Parv 2021 inaugurated
Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla inaugurated on 26th January 2021, the ‘Bharat Parv 2021’, a virtual national festival showcasing the country’s diverse culture, cuisines, and handicrafts.
- The Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with other central Ministries is organizing this year a virtual ‘Bharat Parv’ event from 26th to 31st January 2021, showcasing the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’.
- The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India is organizing the Bharat Parv every year since 2016 in the front ground of the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on the occasion of Republic Day Celebrations from 26th to 31st January.
1. Padma Awards 2021 announced
Padma Awards were announced on the occasion of Republic Day. Some notable awards were Padma Vibushan, the second-highest civilian award to the famous singer SP Balasubramanyam, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, cardiologist B.M. Hegde and the archaeologist B.B. Lal. Also, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awards were announced for many notable persons by the Union Home Ministry.
- The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honors of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. The Awards are given in three categories:
- Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service),
- Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher-order), and
- Padma Shri (distinguished service).
- The award seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
2. SVEEP and National Voter’s Day
11th National Voters’ Day was celebrated across the country today on January 25, 2021, with the President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind gracing the national level event held at New Delhi in a virtual, online mode. The theme for NVD 2021 is ‘Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed.’ SVEEP Endeavours: Awareness Initiatives during Lok Sabha Election 2019 book provides a detailed insight into voter awareness interventions, innovations, and initiatives during the 17th General Election, conducted in 2019.
- Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program, better known as 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.
1. Sunderbans – latest ZSI report
The latest ZSI report has stated that Sunderbans is home to 428 species of birds.
Sunderbans and Mangroves:
- The Indian Sundarban, covering the south-westernmost part of the delta, constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area and includes 90% of Indian mangrove species.
- The mangrove forests protect the hinterland from storms, cyclones, tidal surges, and the seepage and intrusion of saltwater inland and into waterways.
In the newspaper, there is a mention of MCLR and loans in an article.
- The marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) refers to the minimum interest rate of a bank below which it cannot lend, except in some cases allowed by the RBI.
- It is an internal benchmark or reference rate for the bank.
- MCLR actually describes the method by which the minimum interest rate for loans is determined by a bank – on the basis of marginal cost or the additional or incremental cost of arranging one more rupee to the prospective borrower.
1. 24th Hunar Haat organized at Lucknow UP
The Ministry of Minority Affairs is organizing the 24th “Hunar Haat” at Avadh Shilpgram, Lucknow (UP) from 22nd January to 04th February 2021 with the theme of “Vocal for Local”.
- The Ministry of Minority Affairs has taken the initiative to provide a huge platform through Hunar Haat to the artisans/craftsmen of India to showcase their expertise and explore the opportunities of employment under “Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTAAD)”.
- “Hunar Haat” has proved to be a “Mega Mission” of “Empowerment of Indigenous Legacy” of artisans.
1. NITI AAYOG releases India Innovation Index
NITI Aayog, along with the Institute for Competitiveness, released the second edition of the India Innovation Index in a virtual event. The report examines the innovation capabilities and performance of the states and union territories. The first edition of the index was launched in October 2019.
The second edition of India Innovation Index-Data:
- The India Innovation Index aims to create an extensive framework for the continual evaluation of India’s innovation environment.
- The index aims to rank states and UTs based on their scores, recognize opportunities and challenges, and assist in tailoring government policies to foster innovation.
2. MoS Jal Shakti chairs a review meeting of the Central Water Commission
The Minister of State (Jal Shakti) reviewed the progress of the Central Water Commission.
(Note: Central Water Commission is responsible for flood control. There were many floods reported in the country in 2020. So the organization associated with the control of floods is important from Prelims point of view.)
Central Water Commission:
- Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization in India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
- The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating, and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation, and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.
1. Hon’ble PM to release financial assistance in UP under PM Awas Yojana – Gramin
Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will release financial assistance of around Rs. 2691 crores to 6.1 lakh beneficiaries in Uttar Pradesh under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) on 20th January 2021 at 12 noon via video conferencing.
PM Awas Yojana-Gramin:
- Prime Minister gave the clarion call of “Housing for All by 2022”, for which a flagship program of PMAY-G was launched on 20th November 2016.
- So far 1.26 crore houses have already been built across the country under the scheme.
2. Indo French Exercise Desert Knight 21
Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace) will conduct a bilateral Air exercise, Ex Desert Knight-21 at Air Force Station Jodhpur from 20 to 24 Jan 21..
Ex Desert Knight 21:
- Ex Desert Knight 21 is between Indian and French Air Forces.
- The French side will participate with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft, and approximately 175 personnel.
1. TRIFED and IFFDC sign an MOU for tribal livelihood generation.
TRIFED and Indian Farm Forestry Development Co-operative Ltd (IFFDC) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on January 18, 2021, to work together for tribal livelihood generation.
- TRIFED was established in August 1987 under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984 by the Government of India as a National level Cooperative body.
- Under the administrative control of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, TRIFED is mandated to ringing about the socio-economic development of tribals of the country by institutionalizing the trade of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) & Surplus Agricultural Produce (SAP) collected/ cultivated by them.
1. Enforcement Directorate and FEMA
The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Chinese nationals for money laundering.
(Note: The news is not important for the exam.)
- Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which enforces the following laws: –
- FEMA and PMLA
2. G7 summit
UK has invited the Hon’ble PM of India Shri.Narendra Modi for the G7 summit which is to be held in June.
- G7 is an International Intergovernmental group of countries.
- India is not a member of G7.
There is a politically related article in the news regarding SAARC. The news is not important but the SAARC organization is important.
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
2. Public Interest Litigation
There is a political article in today’s newspaper not relevant for the exam but the concept of PIL mentioned in that article is important.
Public Interest Litigation:(PIL)
- PIL is also known as Social Action Litigation( PIL or SAL)
- Earlier litigation or complaint will be accepted in courts only by the aggrieved parties.
- But around 1979 PIL concept has been introduced.
1. Sea Vigil 21
The second edition of the biennial pan-India coastal defense exercise ‘Sea Vigil-21’ will be conducted on 12-13 January 2021.
Sea Vigil 21:
- The inaugural edition of the Sea Vigil exercise was conducted in January 2019.
- This exercise will be undertaken along the entire 7516 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and will involve all the 13 coastal states and Union Territories along with other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.
2. Khadi Prakritik paint to be launched
Hon’ble Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways & MSME Sh. Nitin Gadkari will be launching an innovative new paint called “Khadi Prakritik paint” developed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission on Tuesday, 12th January
Khadi Prakritik paint and benefits to Farmers:
- The eco-friendly, non-toxic paint, called“Khadi Prakritik Paint” is a first-of-its-kind product, with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties.
- Based on cow dung as its main ingredient, the paint is cost-effective and odorless.
- It has been certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards
1. Vanadium source in Arunachal Pradesh
Geological Survey of India(GSI) has put Arunachal Pradesh in the Vanadium map of the country and they will soon find the deposits in Arunachal Pradesh.
Vanadium and facts:
- Vanadium is a high-value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium.
- Vanadium is collected as a by-product from the slag collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores (iron ore).
- Vanadium is a medium-hard, steel-blue metal.
1. IREDA signs MOU with NHPC Ltd.
Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited, IREDA under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NHPC Limited, the PSU under the Ministry of Power for providing its technical expertise in developing renewable energy projects.
Prelims GS – Governance
- Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) is a Mini Ratna (Category – I) Government of India Enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
- IREDA is a Public Limited Government Company established as a Non-Banking Financial Institution in 1987 engaged in promoting, developing and extending financial assistance for setting up projects relating to new and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency/conservation with the motto: “ENERGY FOREVER”
2.NIXI Offers free Domain in Local Indian Languages
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) announced that it will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian languages along with every IN domain booked by the registrant. This offer has been created to stimulate the adoption of भारत (IDN) domain name and proliferation of local language content.
- National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) is a not for profit organization working since 2003 for spreading internet technology to the citizens of India through the following activities: –
- i) Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISPs and between ISPs and CDNs.
- ii) IN Registry, managing and operation of IN country-code domain and भारत IDN domain for India.
- iii) IRINN, managing, and operating Internet protocol (IPv4/IPv6).
1. Equalisation Levy and India’s response to S 301 of US
The office of USTR on 6th Jan 2021 released its findings on the section 301 investigation into India’s Digital Services Tax (DST) and concluded that India’s DST -the equalization levy – is discriminatory and restricts US commerce. Similar determinations were also made against Italy and Turkey on 6th Jan 2021, itself. In this regard, India gave its response to the S 301 report of the U.S. on Equalisation Levy.
- The Equalisation Levy introduced by the Finance Act 2016, was charged at 6% on certain online advertising and related services. (Note: 2018 UPSC Prelims Question)
- The Finance Act 2020 amended the Finance Act 2016, introducing a new Equalisation Levy at 2% on the consideration received/receivable by the e-commerce operators.
2. India to chair 3 subsidiary bodies of UNSC
India will be chairing three-key subsidiary bodies of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The panels are Counter-Terrorism Committee (for 2022), Taliban Sanctions Committee, and Libya Sanctions committee.
- UN Security Council has the responsibility of maintaining peace and security in the world.
- It is one of the 6 principal organs of the UN.
- UNSC has 15 members. i.e. 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members.
1. National Infrastructure Pipeline reviewed by Finance Minister
Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in a meeting with the Secretaries of the Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare reviewed the progress of National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) implementation on 6th January 2021.
- The National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) for FY 2019-25 is a first-of-its-kind, whole-of-government exercise to provide world-class infrastructure to citizens and improving their quality of life and enhance the ease of living.
- It aims to improve project preparation and attract investments into infrastructure.
2. Basaveshwara and Lingayats
The ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’ foundation stone was laid at Basavakalyan in Karnataka where 12th-century poet-philosopher Basaveshwara (a) Basavanna, an icon of Veerashaiva-Lingayat community lived most of his life.
Lingayats and Basavanna:
- The twelfth-century witnessed the emergence of a new movement in Karnataka, led by a Brahmana named Basavanna (1106-68) who was initially a Jaina and a minister in the court of a Chalukya king.
- His followers were known as Virashaivas (heroes of Shiva) or Lingayats (wearers of the linga).
- Lingayats continue to be an important community in the region to date.
1. Legal Entity Identifier introduced by RBI
The Reserve Bank of India has introduced Legal Entity Identifier(LEI) for large value transactions in centralized payment systems.
(Note: This is a new concept. So it is very important to know such news items for Prelims.)
- The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a 20-digit number used to uniquely identify parties to financial transactions worldwide.
- It was conceived as a key measure to improve the quality and accuracy of financial data systems for better risk management post the Global Financial Crisis.
1. Central Vigilance Commission
CVC has directed the Chief Vigilance Officers to complete the pending cases initiated between Jan 2011 and Dec 2018 within May 31st.
- The Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) was set up by the Government in February 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
- CVC are conceived to be the apex vigilance institution, free of control from any executive authority, monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government and advising various authorities in Central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing, and reforming their vigilant work.
2. FSSAI caps TFA limits
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has slashed the Trans Fatty Acids (TFA) in oils and fats from the current permissible limit of 5%.
FSSAI Revised TFA limits:
- Trans fatty acids shall not be more than 5 % by weight. This is the current permissible limit.
- Now, FSSAI has slashed TFA limits for 2021 and 2022. It has provided that the maximum limit of trans fatty acid shall not be more than 3% by weight, on and from 1st January 2021 and not more than 2% by weight, on and from 1st January 2022.
1. Foundation stone laid by Hon’ble PM as part of GHTC-India initiative
Hon’ble PM Shri. Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of six Light House Projects in six cities as part of the GHTC-India initiative on January 1st, 2021.
- Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC-I) intends to get the best globally available innovative construction technologies through a challenging kind of process.
- It aims to demonstrate and deliver ready to live-in houses in minimum time and minimum cost with high-quality construction in a sustainable manner.
2. RBI’s Digital Payments Index introduced
The Reserve Bank of India has introduced the Digital Payments Index as announced in the Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies.
Digital Payments Index:
- The Reserve Bank of India has constructed a composite Digital Payments Index (DPI) to capture the extent of digitization of payments across the country.
- The RBI-DPI comprises 5 broad parameters that enable the measurement of deepening and penetration of digital payments in the country over different time periods.
1. Anti-dumping duty
Anti-dumping duty was imposed on viscose yarn imported from China, Vietnam, and Indonesia by the designated authority (Directorate General of Trade Remedies) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.
- Thus, the purpose of anti-dumping duty is to rectify the trade distortive effect of dumping and re-establish fair trade.
2. Fiscal deficit increases to 135% of the target
The fiscal deficit of India increased to 135% of the target to nearly Rs.8 lakh crore for 2020-2021.
- A fiscal deficit is a shortfall in a government’s income compared with its spending.
- Fiscal Deficit is the difference between the total income of the government (total taxes and non-debt capital receipts) and its total expenditure.