• Daily Current affairs

    TLR 7/8

    The Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab helped in the development of key molecule for Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine developed by the city-based Bharat Biotech International Limited.


    • The vaccine is a highly purified, whole virion, inactivated SARS-Cov-2.
    • The vaccine has been formulated with ‘Algel-IMDG’, which contains chemically absorbed TLR7/8 as an agonist or an adjuvant onto aluminium hydroxide gel to generate the requisite type of immune responses without damaging the body.
    • The firm had approached the IICT to develop the synthetic route for the adjuvant molecule TLR 7/8 with indigenous chemicals at an affordable price and with highest purity.
    • This indigenously developed molecule aided Bharat Biotech to scale up the production of the adjuvant.



    Some villages in Nagaland are trying to revive a traditional form of punishment that seeks to check crime with an itch in time.


    • Social offenders or violators of Naga customary laws have over the ages dreaded a cramped, triangular cage made from the logs of Masang-fung, a local tree that people avoid because of the irritation it causes.
    • The dread is more of humiliation or loss of face within the community or clan than of spending at least a day scratching furiously without any space to move.
    • Such itchy cages are referred to as khujli ghar in Nagamese — a pidgin lingua franca — but each Naga community has its own name. The Aos, one of the major tribes of Nagaland, call it Shi-ki that means flesh-house.
    • The cage is usually placed at a central spot in the village, usually in front of the morung, or bachelor’s dormitory, for the inmate to be in full public view.



    The Suryakiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) will perform at an airshow at the Galle Face in Colombo from March 3 to 5 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF).


    • This will be the first performance for the SKAT team outside India since it was resurrected in 2015 with the Hawk advanced jet trainers.
    • Earlier, the SKAT team had toured Sri Lanka during the 50th anniversary of the SLAF in 2001.
    • The SKAT team, also known as 52 Squadron or The Sharks, is based in Bidar.
    • The team was formed in 1996 with Kiran Mk-II aircraft and had enthralled spectators across the country till 2011. It was revived in 2015 with Hawk trainers initially with four aircraft and grew to the nine-aircraft formation.
    • Since its inception, the SKAT team has carried out over 600 displays all around the country. It has also represented India across southeast Asia including China.



    The Metropolitan Magistrate Court (Railway Court) has served summons on 40 persons reportedly involved in the arson at the Tuni railway station in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in January 2016.


    • Tuni is a town in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. It is known for mango export, with nearly 250 varieties. It is also famous for betel leaves and jute bags.
    • Kapu leader and present Tuni MLA Dadisetti Ramalingeswara Rao (Raja) and many other leaders organised Kapu Gharjana Sabha in the town on January 31, 2016, demanding reservation for the Kapu community under the Backward Class (BC) category.
    • The agitators suddenly squatted on the tracks, stopped the Ratnachal Express between Tuni and Hamsavaram stations and threw stones at the train. When the panicked passengers alighted from the train, the mob climbed on it and set some coaches on fire.
    • The Government Railway Police and RPF personnel registered cases against the accused.



    Union Minister for Health addressed the Global Indian Physicians Congress, organized by the Global Association for Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), through video conference.


    • GAPIO is a non-profit organization established in 2011.
    • Padma Vibhushan, Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Chairman of Apollo Hospitals Group is the Founder President of GAPIO along with Dr. Sanku Rao – Past President of AAPI, USA and Dr. Ramesh Mehta – President of BAPIO, UK.
    • The aim of the organization is to bring together 1.4 million physicians of Indian origin in the world on one professional platform.
    • GAPIO has held 10 annual conferences in India and has held 9 midyear conferences overseas since 2011.



    A section of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has signalled its opposition to changing a law that forces married couples to have the same surname.


    • In the recent past, Japan has witnessed heated debates over the century-old law, with women’s rights activists pitted against conservative figures.
    • Under Japan’s civil code, married couples are required to share the same surname, thus making the country the only industrialised nation where having different surnames for married spouses is illegal.
    • The requirement was first introduced in 1896 during the Meiji era (1868-1912), when it was common for women in the country to leave their families and become a part of the husband’s family.
    • While the law makes having one surname compulsory, it does not specify which name a couple should adopt. However, in an overwhelming number of cases, couples choose to adopt the husband’s surname at birth. Currently, 96 per cent of women drop their maiden name in Japan, reflecting the country’s male-dominated society.
    • The law even forbids in-between options, such as hyphenating last names, keeping one’s family name as a middle name, or combining the two surnames into a new one.

    Important Info :

    • Japan often faces criticism for its poor performance when it comes to gender equality.
    • In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, Japan was ranked 121st out of 153 countries (India was at 112).



    PSLV-C51 mission was supposed to carry a satellite from Pixxel India, one of the several new start-ups. But eventually the satellite could not be part of the launch.


    • Pixxel India is a Bengaluru-based start-up that completed two years of existence recently.
    • It is planning to place a vast constellation of earth-imaging satellites for continuous monitoring of every part of the globe, and beam high-resolution imagery and other data that can be utilized for a variety of applications in climate change, agriculture and urban planning.
    • The first of its satellites, called Anand, was supposed to be on this PSLV-C51 rocket that took off from the Sriharikota launching range this morning.
    • But less than a week before the launch, the company announced that due to “certain software issues” during testing, it would not go ahead with the launch of the satellite at this time.



    The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) issued an advertisement seeking applications “from talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation building” for three posts of Joint Secretary and 27 of Director in central government Departments.


    • These individuals, who would make a “lateral entry” into the government secretariat, would be contracted for three to five years. These posts were “unreserved”, meaning were no quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.
    • NITI Aayog, in its three-year Action Agenda, and the Sectoral Group of Secretaries (SGoS) on Governance in its report submitted in February 2017, recommended the induction of personnel at middle and senior management levels in the central government. These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services.
    • Lateral recruitment is aimed at achieving the twin objectives of bringing in fresh talent as well as augment the availability of manpower.



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate ‘Maritime India Summit 2021’ on 2nd March via video conferencing.


    • The Maritime India Summit 2021 is being organized by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways on a virtual platform www.maritimeindiasummit.in from 2nd March to 4th March 2021.
    • Denmark is the partner country for the three-day summit.
    • The Summit will visualize a roadmap for India’s Maritime sector for next decade and will work to propel India to the forefront of the Global Maritime Sector.
    • Eminent speakers from several countries are expected to attend the Summit and explore the potential business opportunities and investments in Indian Maritime domain.



    Government has decided to form Centre of Excellence in gaming and other related areas in collaboration with IIT Bombay.


    • The Centre is at an advanced stage of preparation and will come into effect as the new session of IIT begins in 2021.
    • This was announced by Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar while addressing the virtual exhibition and prize announcement of “Khel Khel Mein”, a Pan Maharashtra toy/game project design competition.


    Union Ministers for Agriculture celebrated the first anniversary of the Central Sector Scheme on “Formation & Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)”.


    • The scheme was launched by Prime Minister on 29.02.2020 at Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh) with a budgetary provision of Rs 6865 crore.
    • FPOs will make farming more viable by aggregating land.
    • More than 2200 FPOs produce clusters have been allocated for the formation of FPOs in the current year, of which 100 FPOs for specialized Organic produce, 100 FPOs from Oilseeds & 50 commodity-specific FPOs with value chain development will be formed.
    • Implementing Agencies (IAs) are engaging Cluster-Based Business Organizations (CBBOs) to aggregate, register & provide professional handholding support to each FPO for a period of 5 years.
    • CBBOs will be the platform for an end to end knowledge for all issues related to FPO promotion.
    • FPOs will be provided financial assistance up to Rs 18.00 lakh per FPO for a period of 03 years.


    Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain took over as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) on 02 Mar 2021.


    • Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) is the head of the Integrated Defence Staff which acted as the point organisation for jointmanship in the Ministry of Defence.
    • The CISC is a Three-star rank officer from the three Services in rotation.
    • The CISC reports to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (Chairman COSC) in New Delhi.
    • He is assisted by the following five Principal Staff Officers (all three-star appointments) who headed the various branches within the IDS.



    The Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) celebrated its 9th Foundation Day today at its Headquarter in New Delhi.


    • Type: It is a statutory body (created through the Land Ports Authority of India Act, 2010).
    • Founded in: 2012.
    • Parent ministry: Ministry of Home Affairs.
    • Mandate: It is responsible for creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing border infrastructure in India. It manages several Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) all across Borders of India.



    The NITI Aayog recently circulated a discussion paper on a proposed revision in the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.


    • The NFSA provides a legal right to persons belonging to “eligible households” to receive food grains at subsidised price– rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grain at Rs 1/kg — under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
    • These are called central issue prices (CIPs).
    • Under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Act, the term “eligible households” comprises two categories — “priority households”, and families covered by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).
      • Priority households are entitled to receive 5 kg of food grains per person per month.
      • AAY households are entitled to 35 kg per month at the same prices.

    What has the NITI Aayog proposed?

    • The national rural and urban coverage ratio be reduced from the existing 75-50 to 60-40. if this reduction happens, the number of beneficiaries under the NFSA will drop to 71.62 crore (on the basis of the projected population in 2020).
    • To make these changes in the law, the government will have to amend sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the NFSA. For this, it will require parliamentary approval.
    • If the national coverage ratio is revised downward, the Centre can save up to Rs 47,229 crore (as estimated by the NITI Aayog paper). However, the move may be opposed by some of the states.



    Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) System has been commissioned in Western Railway Trains in Mumbai.


    • The Mobile Train Radio Communication system is an effective and a technologically advanced communication system which can play an intrinsic role in preventing train accidents and reducing delays through effective communication.
    • MRTC acts in a similar way to that of Air traffic control (ARC) for aircrafts. The system will monitor, track and aid in communication between the trains and the control room thereby ensuring smooth movement of rakes as well as help in preventing adverse events.
    • This is the first time that MTRC is commissioned in Indian Railways. It is a historic move of the Indian Railways.
    • The new system has already been installed in 90 out of 100 rakes running between Churchgate and Virar.



    Union Minister for Social justice and Empowerment will virtually launch “Sugamya Bharat App”


    • The App has been developed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
    • Sugamya Bharat APP — a Crowdsourcing Mobile Application is a means for sensitising and enhancing accessibility in the 3 pillars of the Accessible India Campaign i.e. built environment, transportation sector and ICT ecosystem in India.
    • The app provides for five main features, 4 of which are directly related to enhancing accessibility, while the fifth is a special feature meant only for Divyangjan for COVID related issues.
    • The accessibility related features are: the registration of complaints of inaccessibility across the 3 broad pillars of the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyaan; positive feedback of examples and best practices worth emulating being shared by people as jan-bhagidhari; Departmental updates; and guidelines and circulars related to accessibility.



    The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India under its “Waste to Wealth” Mission launched the “Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship”


    • Aim of the fellowship to recognize students, community workers/self-help groups, and municipal/sanitary workers who are engaged in tackling the enormous challenge of waste management, scientifically and sustainably.
    • The Waste to Wealth Mission is one of the nine national missions of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
    • The three categories of awards under the fellowships are as below:
      • Category-A – Open to School students from 9th to 12th standards engaged in waste management community work
      • Category-B – Open to College students (UG, PG, Research students) engaged in waste management community work
      • Category-C – Open to Citizens working in the community and through SHGs, municipal or sanitary workers working beyond specifications of their job requirement/descriptions
    • The last date for applying to the fellowship is March 19th, 2021. Up to 500 fellows will be recognised under the fellowship.



    Archaeologists working at Pompeii have announced the discovery of a large ceremonial chariot, found with four wheels, its iron components, bronze and tin decorations, mineralised wood remains, and imprints of organic materials.


    • It is likely that the chariot was used as a transport vehicle by Roman elites during various ceremonies.
    • This is an exceptional discovery, because it represents a unique find – which has no parallel in Italy thus far – in an excellent state of preservation.
    • Pompeii was a Roman town in Southern Italy’s Campania region situated along the Bay of Naples. The town was completely buried by volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, over 2,000 years ago.



    Jaideep Bhatnagar has taken over today as Principal Director General, Press Information Bureau.


    • It is one of the media units working under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India.
    • It is the nodal agency for public communication and media relations for the entire Union Government of India
    • It is based in National Media Centre, New Delhi.
    • It was established in 1919 as a small cell under Home Ministry under the British government.
    • In 2019, the PIB set up a fact-checking unit to check government related news.


    The centuries-old St. George’s Orthodox Church at Cheppad in Kerala faced demolition for widening of National Highway 66, but is now set to become a Centrally-protected monument of national importance with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) recognition.


    • The church is one of the rarest in Kerala, having traditional Kerala church architectural pattern with rare and beautiful mural paintings on the walls of the altar.
    • The church is thought to date back to AD 950, but some experts say it was built in AD 1050. Though rebuilt in 1952, the old apse at the eastern end preserves the murals.
    • There are 47 murals and the paintings are of St. Paul with a sword, the birth of Jesus Christ, resurrection of Lazarus, the kiss of Judas, the Last Supper, Christ bearing the cross, Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, and Noah’s Ark.
    • These paintings, blending Persian and Kerala mural art styles, draw enthusiasts from far and wide.


    Central Revenues Control Laboratory (CRCL), New Delhi was recognized as a Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL) of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for Asia-Pacific Region.


    • Central Revenues Control Laboratory (CRCL), New Delhi is under the administrative control of Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs.
    • Established in 1939, CRCL is the headquarters of 14 Revenue Laboratories, including 2 laboratories working at Government Opium & Alkaloid Works, Ghazipur & Neemuch.
    • With its recognition as RCL, CRCL joins a select group of Customs Laboratories in the region like those in Japan & Korea.


    • 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.
    • It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.



    The Indian Air Force is participating for the first time in Exercise Desert Flag along with air forces of United Arab Emirates, United States of America, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Bahrain.


    • Exercise Desert Flag is an annual multi-national large force employment warfare exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates Air Force.
    • Exercise Desert Flag VI is scheduled from 03 Mar 21 to 27 Mar 21 at Al-Dhafra airbase, UAE.
    • The IAF is participating with six Su-30 MKI, two C-17 and one IL-78 tanker aircraft.
    • The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure to the participating forces while training them to undertake simulated air combat operations in a controlled environment.



    The Udaipur Science Centre, at Udaipur, Tripura was dedicated to the people by the Governor of Tripura.


    • Udaipur Science Centre is the 22nd Science Centre which has been developed by National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) and handed over to the State Governments under the Ministry of Culture’s Scheme for Promotion of Culture of Science.
    • This Science Centre has been developed at a cost of Rs 6 crore funded jointly by Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India and Dept. of Science, Technology & Environment, Government of Tripura.
    • With this; NCSM has now set-up science centres in all the north eastern states.

    Important Info :

    • Udaipur, formerly known as Rangamati, is the third biggest city in Tripura.
    • The city was a former capital of the state during the reign of the Maharajas. This city is famous for the Tripura Sundari temple also known as Tripureswari temple



    Registration of political parties is governed by the provisions of section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.


    • A party seeking registration under the said section with the Commission has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation as per guidelines prescribed by the Commission in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Constitution of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
    • As per existing guidelines, the applicant association is, inter-alia, asked to publish proposed Name of party in two national daily newspapers and two local daily newspapers, on two days for submitting objections, if any, with regard to the proposed registration of the party before the Commission within 30 days from such publication.

    Important Info :

    Recent development:

    • The Commission has announced the General Elections for the Legislative Assemblies of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on 26.02.2021.
    • The Election Commission has given a relaxation and has reduced the notice period from 30 days to 7 days for the parties who have published their public notice on or before 26.02.2021.



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the ‘Maritime India Summit 2021’.

    Key highlights of the summit:

    • He informed that capacity of major ports have increased from 870 million tonnes in 2014 to 1550 million tonnes now.
    • Mega ports with world class infrastructure are being developed in Vadhavan, Paradip and Deendayal Port in Kandla.
    • India aims to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030.
    • India has as many as 189 lighthouses across its vast coastline and has drawn up a programme for developing tourism in the land adjacent to 78 lighthouses.
    • Steps are also being taken to introduce urban water transport systems in key states and cities such as Kochi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Goa.
    • To encourage domestic shipbuilding, approval has been given to the Shipbuilding Financial Assistance Policy for Indian Shipyards.
    • The Ministry of Port Shipping and Waterways has created a list of 400 investable These projects have an investment potential of $ 31 billion or Rs 2.25 lakh crores.
    • The Maritime India Vision 2030 outlines the priorities of the Government.
    • The Sagar-Manthan: Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre has been launched. It is an information system for enhancing maritime safety, search and rescue capabilities, security and marine environment protection.
    • Government is in the process of installing solar and wind-based power systems at all the major ports across the country and aims to increase usage of renewable energy to more than 60% of total energy by 2030 in three phases across Indian ports.



    The Government of India, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance hosted Merchant Digitization Summit 2021: Towards AatmaNirbhar (Self Reliance) Bharat with special focus on Himalayan Regions, North East Regions and Aspirational Districts of India.


    • Based at the United Nations, the Better Than Cash Alliance is a partnership of governments, companies and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to responsible digital payments.
    • The Alliance has 75 members which are committed to digitizing payments.
    • The Alliance Secretariat works with members on their journey to digitize payments by:
      • Providing advisory services based on their priorities.
      • Sharing action-oriented research and fostering peer learning on responsible practices.
      • Conducting advocacy at national, regional and global level.
    • It was created in 2012. It was launched by the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citigroup, the Ford Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and Visa Inc.



    The Nag River Pollution Abatement Project has been approved at a cost of Rs. 2,117.54 crores.


    • This was announced by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari after chairing a meeting of World Bank officials, DG NMCG and Nagpur Municipal commissioner.
    • The project , approved under the National River Conservation Plan, will be implemented by the National River Conservation Directorate, NRCD.
    • It will reduce the pollution level in terms of untreated sewage, flowing solid waste and other impurities flowing into the Nag river and its tributaries.
    • The Nag River is a river flowing through the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra. Nagpur city derives its name from the Nag river.
    • Forming a part of the Kanhan-Pench river system, the Nag River originates in Lava hills near wadi.



    Union Minister for Tourism virtually laid the Foundation Stone for the project “Development of Maa Bamleshwari Devi Temple, Dongargarh, Chhattisgarh” approved under PRASHAD Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism.


    • The ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) is a Central Sector Scheme fully financed by the Government of India.
    • It was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the objective of integrated development of identified pilgrimage and heritage destinations.
    • The scheme aimed at infrastructure development such as entry points (Road, Rail and Water Transport), last mile connectivity, ATM/ Money exchange, area Lighting and illumination with renewable sources, waiting rooms, first aid centers, craft bazars etc.
    • Till now, 13 projects have been successfully completed under PRASHAD Scheme to promote spiritual tourism. The completed projects include two projects each at Somnath, Mathura, Tamil Nadu and Bihar and one project each at Varanasi, Guruvayur and Amaravati (Guntoor), Kamakhya and Amritsar.



    Union Minister for Road Transport looked into request by carmakers from the Society of India Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) to postpone implementation of BS 6 CAFÉ Phase II regulations to April 1st 2024, on the grounds that the industry is still recovering from the impact of COVID.


    • CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) regulations are similar norms to BS6 but with a different approach towards reducing the carbon footprint in the exhaust gasses of the vehicle.
    • CAFE majorly focuses on COx emissions. BS6, on the other hand, focuses on overall emissions which include NOx (Nitrogen Oxides), SOx (Sulphur Oxides).
    • The CAFE regulations aim to reduce the overall COx (Carbon Oxides) from the exhaust of the vehicle. The reduced carbon footprint leads to increased fuel economy.
    • These regulations were first implemented in India on 1st April 2017 with the introduction of BS4 exhaust emission norms.


    Freedoms in India have reduced, according to a report from a U.S. thinktank, Freedom House, resulting in India being classified as ‘partly free’.


    • India’s score was 67, a drop from 71/100 from last year (reflecting 2019 data) downgrading it from the free category last year (based on 2020 data).
    • According to the report “Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege”, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its State-level allies continued to crack down on critics during the year.
    • The ruling Hindu nationalist movement also encouraged the scapegoating of Muslims, who were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus.
    • The U.S. dropped three points over one year, down to 83/100.
    • China, classified as ‘not free’, dropped a point from last year going down to 9/100.



    SEBI asked stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories to put in place a code of conduct and institutional mechanism to prevent fraud or market abuse by them and their designated persons.


    • Under this, the managing director (MD) or chief executive officer (CEO) of market infrastructure institutions (MIIs) will be obligated to frame a code of conduct and put in place an institutional mechanism.
    • Further, the board of directors needs to ensure compliance by the MD/CEO in this regard.
    • MIIs will have to formulate a code of conduct to regulate, monitor and report trading by their designated persons and immediate relative of designated persons towards achieving compliance with the prohibition of insider trading regulations.



    WHO is celebrating the world hearing day.


    • World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world.
    • Theme for 2021: Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate.
    • World Hearing Day 2021 will mark the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing (WRH).
    • The Report has been developed in response to the World Health Assembly resolution (WHA70.13), adopted in 2017 as a means of providing guidance for Member States to integrate ear and hearing care into their national health plans.
    • The report proposes a set of key H.E.A.R.I.N.G. interventions that must be delivered through a strengthened health system to realize the vision of ‘Integrated people-centered ear and hearing care’ (IPC-EHC).

    Indian scenario

    • According to a 2018 WHO report, 2% of India’s population, mainly children, suffer from the condition of Otitis Media.
    • The disabling hearing loss affected 2.9% of the population and was noted to effect communication, education and work.
    • The prevalence of total hearing loss, unilateral &bilateral was found to be as high as 9.93%.
    • National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness will target over 6% of India’s population with Disabling Hearing Loss. The program was launched in 2006.



    The world added 607 new billionaires, or more than three billionaires in two days, while India added 55 new billionaires, or more than one billionaire every week, in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as per the 10th edition of Hurun Global Rich List 2021.


    • Tesla’s Elon Musk added $151 billion to become the richest man in the world for the first time with a net worth of $197 billion, followed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ($189 billion).
    • Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, who emerged as the richest man in India with a net worth of $83 billion, came in at number eight.
    • India retained the third spot in the number of billionaires from a country with a total of 177 billionaires living in the country.
    • In the list of Indian billionaires, Mr. Ambani was followed by Adani Group’s Gautam Adani and family with his wealth almost doubling to $32 billion.



    The Army will begin inducting the first lot of 6,000 new Light Machine Guns (LMG) from Israel, with frontline troops on the borders set to receive them later this month.


    • These are part of the 16,497 Negev LMGs contracted from Israeli Weapons Industry (IWI) in March 2020 under fast track procurement to meet the immediate requirement. The remaining guns in the order will be delivered by March 2022.
    • The contracted Negev 7.62X51 mm LMG is a combat proven weapon and currently used by several countries around the globe.
    • This LMG will greatly enhance the lethality and range of a soldier vis-a-vis the presently used weapon.



    After nearly two years of work, the merger of the Lok Sabha TV (LSTV) and the Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV) has been finalised and will be replaced by Sansad TV.


    • Retired IAS officer Ravi Capoor was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sansad TV. Mr. Capoor’s mandate is also to work out the nitty-gritty of the merger, including the integration of the assets and manpower.
    • In November 2019, a committee headed by former Prasar Bharati Chairman Surya Prakash was set up. It submitted a report in February 2020.
    • The Surya Prakash panel held a meeting with Members of Parliament from different political parties and they strongly recommended the continuation of the live telecast.
    • Under the banner of Sansad TV, the LSTV would continue to telecast live the House proceedings and the RSTV that of the Upper House.
    • During the inter-session period and beyond the working hours of Parliament, both will telecast common content to a large extent. The LSTV platform would telecast programmes in Hindi, while RSTV would do so in English.



    Himalayan serow was spotted in the Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam. It was spotted close to the border with Bhutan in Manas’s Bansbari-Mathanguri forest.


    • The Himalayan serow is a subspecies of the mainland serow native to the Himalayas.
    • Common name: Himalayan Serow
    • Scientific name: Capricornis sumatraensi thar.
    • Local name: Jingal, Yemu.
    • Description: An appearance of a goat with long, donkey like ears, and a habit of standing with forelegs astraddle, make the Serow an ungainly goat antelope. Its coarse coat(long hair length than the Goral) varies from black to red.
    • IUCN status: Near threatened.
    • It is listed in CITES Appendix I.



    Karnataka launched the country’s maiden Engineering Research & Development (ER&D) Policy to raise its contribution to the sector in the country to 45% in the next five year.


    • The State government anticipates the policy has the potential to create over 50,000 jobs in the ER&D space in five years.
    • According to industry apex body Nasscom, ER&D has the potential to become a $100-billion industry in the country in the next five years.
    • The ER&D sector in the country is the fastest growing industry with a CAGR of 12.8%. Meanwhile, the global engineering research and development industry is expected to reach a spend of $2 trillion by 2025.
    • The new policy has identified five key focus sectors such as aerospace and defence; auto, auto components and EV; biotechnology, pharma and medical devices; semiconductors, telecom, ESDM; and software products.



    The telecom spectrum auctions concluded after bidding for a day and a half, with the Centre garnering 77,814.8 crore in revenues.


    • The amount exceeded the expectations of the government as well as analysts, as telcos focused on renewing expiring spectrum and consolidating holdings in select bands.
    • The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio was the biggest bidder, acquiring 488.35 MHz of spectrum for ₹57,122.65 crore, followed by Bharti Airtel, which bid for 355.45 MHz of spectrum for ₹18,698.75 crore. Vodafone Idea bid for only 11.8 MHz of airwaves for ₹1,993.4 crore.
    • The spectrum will be assigned to bidders for a period of 20 years.
    • In the auction — the first in nearly five years and among the shortest, with participation from only three players — a total of 2308.80 MHz of spectrum across seven bands and worth about ₹3.92 lakh crore was put up for sale.
    • Bids were received for 855.60 MHz, or 37%, of the spectrum. No bids were received for the premium 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. The 700 MHz band remained unsold during the 2016 auctions as well due to the high prices.
    • Reliance Jio acquired spectrum in all 22 telecom circles, across 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands, and its owned spectrum footprint had increased by 55% to 1,717 MHz.



    Sri Lanka said it will develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Colombo Port, along with India and Japan.


    • The decision comes a month after the Rajapaksa government ejected the two partners from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT), citing resistance to “foreign involvement”.
    • While the High Commission of India had “approved” Adani Ports, which was to invest in the ECT project earlier, Japan is yet to name an investor.
    • In the ECT project agreed upon earlier, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was to hold majority 51%, but in the WCT proposal, India and Japan will be accorded 85% stake, as is the case in the nearby Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), where China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited holds 85%.
    • The WCT is adjacent to the China-run CICT and just a couple of kilometres away from the China-backed Port City being built on reclaimed land, making it a strategically desirable spot for India, whose concerns over China’s presence in Sri Lanka are well known.
  • Archive February


    The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) received the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the Indian Army from Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).


    • The LUH is a three-ton class new generation single engine helicopter indigenously designed and developed by Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)  with features suitable for operations in the diverse operating conditions unique to India.
    • The LUH will replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah/Chetak helicopters operated by the Services.
    • The LUH is powered by a single turbo shaft engine Ardiden 1U from M/s. Safran Helicopter Engine (SHE), France with adequate power margins to accomplish high altitude missions in Himalayas with ease.
    • LUH is equipped with Smart Cockpit Display System (Glass Cockpit), state-of-the-art HUMS (Health & Usage Monitoring System) and is designed for various utility and armed roles.



    A library movement developed in a short span of time in Jharkhand’s Jamtara district is receiving a steady flow of students.


    • The district now has 45 functional public libraries. Unused government buildings have been renovated and converted into public libraries.
    • The district’s love for books assumes huge significance as it has the dubious distinction of being the “phishing capital of India”.
    • Many youth, mostly drop-outs in the 15-35 age group, have been turning to cybercrime to earn a few quick bucks.
    • Police personnel from 22 out of 28 Indian States have visited the tiny district in search of cyber fraudsters in the past few years. It is said that the majority of online fraud calls received by people across the country emanate from the district.
    • Netflix’s 2020 crime drama, Jamtara, was based on this.
    • As many as 93 cyber criminals are languishing in Jamtara’s jails, while 156 online fraudsters were arrested in 74 different cases in 2020.


    Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has issued the guidelines for floating structures with a vision to set up world-class floating infrastructure all along the coastline in the upcoming projects.


    • The guidelines sets out technical aspects for implementation of Floating Jetties or Platforms for Marinas, Minor Harbors, Fishing Harbours or Fish landing centers, Waterdomes and such other similar facilities in coastal areas, estuaries, waterways, rivers and reservoirs.
    • These guidelines may also be suitably utilized for floating pontoons or platforms in various waterborne systems and floating wave attenuators or breakwaters for Minor Harbors or Fish Landing facilities.


    • Floating structure because of its inherent advantages is an attractive solution and it is being promoted by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
    • The benefits of floating jetties or structures over the conventional quay and fixed concrete structures include its cost-effectiveness, faster implementation, easily expandable and re-locatable and having minimal environmental impacts.


    The 1st meeting of the Joint Working Group in the field of Renewable Energy between India and the Kingdom of Bahrain was held in virtual format.


    • A MoU between India and Bahrain was signed in 2018 for promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of Renewable Energy.
    • Both sides agreed to forging deeper engagement in capacity building and focused cooperation between concerned agencies as well as private sector of the two countries in this sector, particularly in the field of solar, wind and clean hydrogen.


    The Indian Navy received three “made in India” Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) from the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The helicopters are customised for coastal security.


    • The naval version of ALH is fitted with an array of advanced sensors that can detect Mumbai terror attacks like intrusions on Indian waters.
    • These helicopters have latest generation avionics, indigenous low frequency dunking sonar, full glass cockpit with integrated architecture display system and the powerful Shakti engines.
    • It also has a nose mounted surveillance radar with 270 degree coverage that can detect and track multiple marine targets. Its synthetic aperture radar and inverse synthetic aperture radar can detect targets on sea.


    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that it will give small investors direct access to its government securities trading platform.


    • Retail investors can directly open their gilt accounts with RBI, and trade in government securities. The RBI Governor described this as a “major structural reform.”
    • Government Securities (or g-secs) are debt instruments issued by the government to borrow money.
    • The two key categories are
      • treasury bills – short-term instruments which mature in 91 days, 182 days, or 364 days, and
      • dated securities – long-term instruments, which mature anywhere between 5 years and 40 years.


    The Centre has extended the tenure of The Commission to Examine Sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) headed by Justice G Rohini, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. The commission now has until July 31 to submit its report.


    • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
    • In September last year, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the legal debate on sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for reservations.
    • The debate arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among the over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of this 27% reservation.
    • The argument for sub-categorisation — or creating categories within OBCs for reservation — is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
    • To examine this, the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.



    The Danish government approved a plan to build an artificial island in the North Sea as part of its effort to switch to green energy.


    • The project is being called the largest construction project to be undertaken in Denmark’s history with an estimated cost of DKK 210 billion.
    • An energy island is based on a platform that serves as a hub for electricity generation from surrounding offshore wind farms.
    • The artificial island will be located about 80 km into the North Sea and the majority of it will be owned by the Danish government. Its primary purpose is to provide large-scale offshore wind power.
    • The idea is to connect and distribute power between Denmark and neighbouring countries.
    • The move has come after the EU announced its plans to transform its electricity system to rely mostly on renewables within a decade and to increase its offshore wind energy capacity by over 25-fold by the year 2050.


    Canada has announced that it will be designating the US-based far-right group ‘Proud Boys’ as a terrorist entity in an attempt to crack down on “ideologically motivated violent extremism” in the country.


    • With this, the all-male neo-fascist group will be added to a lengthy list of international terrorist organisations, that includes ISIS, Al Qaeda and al-Shabab.
    • The all-male neo-fascist group was founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder and Canadian-British right-wing activist Gavin McInnes.
    • The Proud Boys are known for their “anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric”. The group is also known for anti-transgender, anti-immigration and anti-Semitic views.
    • Members usually don a fixed uniform of red ‘Make America Great Again’ caps from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and black and yellow polo shirts.


    A global collaboration for the world’s largest radio telescope took formal shape with the constitution of an Intergovernmental Council.


    • The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) project, spanning two continents and involving the participation of 20 countries, is expected to be ready for carrying out observations towards the end of this decade.
    • Its goals are: studying the universe and its evolution, the origin and evolution of cosmic magnetism, and dark energy and evolution of galaxies.
    • It is proposed to be built in two phases, with an estimated 1.8 billion euros required for phase-I, planned over the next ten years.

    The NITI Aayog has commissioned a study that seeks to examine the “unintended economic consequences” of judicial decisions that have hindered and stalled big-ticket projects on environmental grounds



    • The document appears to suggest that judgments that negatively impact major infrastructure projects don’t adequately consider the economic fallout — in terms of loss of jobs and revenue.
    • Doing so, would contribute to public discourse among policymakers for promoting an “economically responsible approach by judiciary” in its decisions.
    • The project brief says that it intends to examine five major projects that have been “impacted” by judicial decisions of the Supreme Court or the National Green Tribunal.
    • It plans to do this by interviewing people who have been affected by the closure of the projects, environmental campaigners, experts and assessing the business impact of closure.
    • Projects to be analysed include the construction of an airport in Mopa, Goa; cessation of iron ore mining in Goa, and the shutting down of the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. The others are decisions by the NGT involving sand mining, and construction activities in the National Capital Region.
    • The study is to be undertaken by the Jaipur-headquartered CUTS (Consumer Unity and Trust Society) Centre for Competition, Investment and Economic Regulation, that also has an international presence.



    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has amended its rules to cap trans-fatty acids (TFAs) in food products, just weeks after it tightened the norms for oils and fats.


    • Food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial trans-fatty acids more than 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, on and from 1st January, 2022.
    • The 2% cap is considered to be elimination of trans-fatty acids, which India will achieve by 2022.
    • In December 2020, the FSSAI had capped TFAs in oils and fats to 3% by 2021, and 2% by 2022 from the current levels of 5%.


    • Trans-fatty acids are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, increase shelf life of food items and for use as an adulterant as they are cheap.
    • They are present in baked, fried and processed foods as well as adulterated ghee, which becomes solid at room temperature.
    • They are the most harmful form of fats as they clog arteries and cause hypertension, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.
    • The WHO has called for the elimination of industrially produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply by 2023.



    The Centre has issued notice to Twitter after the micro-blogging site restored more than 250 accounts that had been suspended earlier on the government’s ‘legal demand’.

    Indian Law:

    • In India, the Information Technology Act, 2000, as amended from time to time, governs all activities related to the use of computer resources.
    • It covers all ‘intermediaries’ who play a role in the use of computer resources and electronic records.
    • The term ‘intermediaries’ includes providers of telecom service, network service, Internet service and web hosting, besides search engines, online payment and auction sites, online marketplaces and cyber cafes.
    • It includes any person who, on behalf of another, “receives, stores or transmits” any electronic record. Social media platforms would fall under this definition.


    In her Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced measures to ease norms on setting up one-person companies (OPCs).


    • As the name suggests, a one-person company is a company that can be formed by just one person as a shareholder.
    • In India, the concept was introduced in the Companies Act of 2013. Its introduction was based on the suggestions of the J.J. Irani Committee Report on Company Law, which submitted its recommendations in 2005.

    Budget 2021 proposals:

    • The 2014 rule, which stated that a one-person company would cease to have that status once its paid-up share capital exceeds ₹50 lakh or its average turnover for the preceding three years exceeds ₹2 crore, has been lifted.
    • The proposals also include, “reducing the residency limit for an Indian citizen to set up an OPC from 182 days to 120 days and also allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to incorporate OPCs in India.” Earlier, only an Indian citizen and an Indian resident could start a single-person company.
    • The step would directly benefit start-ups and innovators.



    The total indigenous content of the Ka-226T utility helicopters, to be jointly manufactured locally by India and Russia with Transfer of Technology (ToT), is between 27%-33%, said Chairman and MD of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) R. Madhavan.


    • The final deal is held up as the Russian proposal of 62% indigenous content in assembled helicopters falls short of the tender requirement of 70%.
    • The Ka-226T is meant to replace the ageing and obsolete Cheetah and Chetak fleet of the Army and Air Force and the total technical life of these will start finishing from 2023 onwards.
    • The helicopters would be manufactured by India Russia Helicopters Limited (IRHL) — a joint venture between HAL and Russian Helicopters.


    President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated Gen. Thimayya Museum at Madikeri in Karnataka’s Kodagu district.


    • General Kodendera Subayya Thimayya (1906-1965), was a distinguished soldier of the Indian Army who served as Chief of Army Staff from 1957 to 1961 in the crucial years leading up to the conflict with China in 1962.
    • He was the only Indian to command an Infantry brigade in battle during the Second World War
    • After the Korean War, Thimayya headed a United Nations unit dealing with the repatriation of prisoners of war.
    • After his retirement from the Army, he was appointed Commander of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus from July 1964 to December 1965 and died in Cyprus while on active duty on 18 December 1965.
    • In 1954, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for Civil Service.
    • His ancestral house ‘Sunny Side’ has been renovated and converted into a museum.



    Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit district have booked the mother and brother of a farmer who had died during the farmers’ agitation in Delhi, under The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, after his body was allegedly draped in the national flag.


    • The law, enacted on December 23, 1971, penalises the desecration of or insult to Indian national symbols, such as the National Flag, the Constitution, the National Anthem, and the Indian map, as well as contempt of the Constitution of India.
    • Section 2 of the Act says that whoever disrespects the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
    • As per the Act, disrespect to the Indian National Flag includes using the Indian National Flag as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in State funerals or armed forces or other para-military forces funerals”.
    • Section 3.22 of The Flag Code of India, 2002 reads: “The Flag shall not be used as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in State/Military/Central Paramilitary Forces funerals hereinafter provided.”
    • The flag can only be used during a funeral if it is accorded the status of a state funeral. Apart from police and armed forces, state funerals are held when people who are holding or have held office of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Minister, Chief Minister pass away.



    The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) settled a $400 million currency swap facility from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), meeting the terms that the two countries had agreed upon.


    • The update sparked speculation in local media that India may have “abruptly terminated” the agreement, following Colombo’s decision to pull out of a 2019 agreement to develop a Colombo Port terminal jointly with India and Japan.
    • However, both countries clarified that the developments were not linked.
    • The CBSL obtained the swap facility on July 31, 2020, for an initial period of three months, to cope with the severe economic impact of the pandemic. Subsequently, the RBI provided a three-month rollover at CBSL’s request, until February 1, 2021.
    • Further extension would require Sri Lanka having a successfully negotiated staff level agreement for an IMF programme, which Sri Lanka does not have at present.


    The 1st High Level Dialogue (HLD), co-chaired by the Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and the European Union Executive Vice-President & Trade Commissioner Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis, was held on 5th February 2021. 


    • Commitment to the establishment of this Dialogue was a major outcome of the 15th India-EU Leader’s Summit held in July 2020, with an objective for a Ministerial level guidance towards the bilateral trade and investment relations.
    • The Ministers also agreed to meet within the next three months, with an objective for reaching consensus on a host of bilateral trade & investment cooperation issues viz. a bilateral Regulatory Dialogue; an India-EU Multilateral Dialogue to explore further possibilities of cooperation; etc.



    Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) has been approved for the period of next four years starting from 2021-22.


    • It will be implemented with effect from 1st April 2021.
    • The Scheme aims to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization.
    • 945 Crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups through eligible incubators across India.
    • The scheme is expected to support about 3600 startups.



    Glacier breaks off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on 7 February 2021, causing flash flood in Dhauliganga River, devastating the Dhauliganga Dam and endangering people.


    • Joshimath is also known as Jyotirmath.
    • It is a city and a municipal board in Chamoli District in Uttarakhand.
    • Located at a height of 6150 feet, it is a gateway to several Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions, trekking trails and pilgrim centres like Badrinath.
    • Jyotirmath is the uttarāmnāya matha, or northern monastery, one of the four cardinal institutions established by Adi Shankara, the others being those at Shringeri, Puri and Dwarka.


    “Nai Roshni”, a scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women by Ministry of Minority affairs is being implemented across India.


    • Its aims is to empower and instill confidence in women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, banks and other institutions at all levels.
    • This includes empowerment of the trainee women so that they become independent and confident members of the society.
    • The scheme provides for six days training programme followed by handholding for a period of one year.
    • The training covers issues relating to women viz. Leadership of Women through participation in decision making, Educational Programmes for women, Health and Hygiene, Legal rights of women, Financial Literacy, Digital Literacy, Swachh Bharat, Life Skills, and Advocacy for Social and Behavioural change.
    • The Scheme is being implemented through Non-Governmental Organisations empanelled under the NaiRoshni Scheme as per scheme guidelines in force.


    The Government has been implementing the National Family Planning Program which provides voluntary and informed choices to the beneficiaries through a target free approach with the objective of checking population increase in the country.


    • A National Population Policy has been formulated in the year 2000 with the long-term objective of attaining population stabilisation by 2045.
    • New Contraceptive Choices: The current contraceptive basket has been expanded with inclusion of two new contraceptives- Injectable contraceptive (Antara programme) and Centchroman (Chhaya).
    • Post-partum Intrauterine contraceptive device(PPIUCD) incentive scheme under which PPIUCD services are provided post-delivery.
    • Compensation scheme for sterilization acceptors which provides compensation for loss of wages to the beneficiary and also to the service provider and team for conducting sterilisation.
    • National Family Planning Indemnity Scheme (NFPIS) under which clients are compensated in the eventualities of death, complication and failure following sterilization operations.
    • Family Planning Logistics Management Information System (FP-LMIS): dedicated software has been launched to ensure smooth forecasting, procurement and distribution of family planning commodities across all the levels of health facilities.
    • Mission Parivar Vikas has been introduced for substantially increasing access to contraceptives and family planning services in seven high focus states having TFR of more than 3 namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam.
    • Scheme for Home Delivery of contraceptives by ASHAs at doorstep of beneficiaries has been taken up.
    • Scheme for provision of Pregnancy Testing Kits in the drug kits of ASHA for use in communities.



    The Prime Minister Modi visited Haldia, West Bengal and dedicated to the nation the LPG import terminal, 348 km Dobhi – Durgapur Natural Gas Pipeline section, which is part of the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project.


    • He also laid the foundation stone of the second Catalytic-Isodewaxing unit of Haldia Refinery and dedicated to the nation the 4 Lane ROB-cum-Flyover at Ranichak, Haldia on NH 41.
    • These projects will also help Haldia to grow into a major hub of export-import.
    • 350 km Dobhi-Durgapur Pipeline will directly benefit not only West Bengal but also 10 districts of Bihar and Jharkhand.
    • This second Catalytic Dewaxing Unit will reduce our dependence on import with regard to lube-based oils.



    The Union Minister of Agriculture informed Rajya Sabha about the setting up a Central Research Institute in Kalahandi for Soyabean.



    • The Kalahandi district of Odisha produces Soybean on a very limited scale.
    • The ICAR has established a national level research Institute on Soybean in 1987 namely, ICAR-Indian Institute of Soybean Research, Indore (Madhya Pradesh) to conduct basic and strategic research on the crop.
    • Besides this, ICAR is also implementing an All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Soybean since 1967 in association with the State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) to develop location-specific high yielding varieties and production technologies required to increase Soybean production in the country.
    • The ICAR-AICRP on Soybean has one voluntary center at Regional Research & Technology Transfer Station, Bhawanipatna (Kalahandi) under the Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar.
    • This station is undertaking need-based and location-specific research on Soybean for hot & moist sub-humid climate of Odisha comprising of Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput.




    Ministry of AYUSH informed Parliament about Medicinal plants.


    Ministry of AYUSH is presently implementing following schemes:

    • Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM): Under ‘Medicinal Plants’ component of the NAM scheme supporting market driven cultivation of 140 prioritized medicinal lants in identified cluster/ zones with in the selected districts of States and implemented in a mission mode.
    • Central Sector Scheme on “Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants” wherein following activities are supported:
      • In-situ conservation/ Ex-situ conservation
      • Livelihood linkages with Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs)/Panchayats/ Van Panchayats/ Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs)/ Self Help Groups (SHGs).
      • IEC activities like Training/ Workshops/ Seminars/ Conference etc.
      • Research & Development.
      • Promotion, marketing and trade of medicinal plants produce.



    The Ministry of Education has decided to name residential schools/ hostels funded under Samagra Shiksha of MoE, as “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose residential schools/hostels”.


    • The association of these schools with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose will act as an inspiration to the children and also motivate the teachers, staff and administration to enable them to achieve high standards of excellence.
    • This will also help create awareness about the facility of these Residential Schools and Hostels in difficult areas and inspire these schools to achieve high standards of quality education.
    • The Ministry of Education under Samagra Shiksha provides financial assistance to states and UTs for opening and running of Residential Schools and Hostels in hilly terrain, small and sparsely populated areas for children who are in need of shelter and care.
    • The residential facilities are also provided to child labour rescued, migrant children who belong to poor landless families, children without adult protection, separated from their families, internally displaced persons
    • Preference is given to EBBs, LWE affected districts, SFDs and the Aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog.
    • A total of 1063 residential facilities (383 residential Schools and 680 Hostels) have been sanctioned to States and UTs so far.



    To boost the safety of farmers’ crops and ensure maximum benefit of crop insurance reaches to farmers, the Government of India has allocated Rs 16000 crores for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) for the fiscal year 2021-22.


    • This is a budgetary increase of around Rs 305 crore as against the previous fiscal year 2020-21.
    • The scheme extends coverage for the entire cropping cycle from pre-sowing to post-harvest including coverage for losses arising out of prevented sowing and mid-season adversities.
    • 5 years ago, on 13th January 2016, the Government of India approved this flagship crop insurance scheme.
    • Today, PMFBY is globally the largest crop insurance scheme in terms of farmer participation and 3rd largest in terms of premium. Over 5.5 crore farmer applications are received on year-on-year basis.
    • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare implements this scheme which was made voluntary for farmers post its revamp in 2020.
    • As of now. out of total farmers enrolled under PMFBY, 84% are small and marginal farmers. Thus, financial assistance is provided to most vulnerable farmers.



    Ministry of Commerce and Industry informed Rajya Sabha about Industrial parks and industries in the country.



    • Industrial Park Scheme-2002, applicable for any undertaking which develops and operates, or, maintains and operates, an Industrial Park for the period beginning 1st day of April, 1997 and ending 31st day of March, 2006, was notified by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade on 1st April, 2002.
    • Data on Industrial Parks that have been established and functional in different States of the country during the last three years is not centrally maintained.
    • During the last three years, Department for Promotion of Industry & InternalTrade has accorded final approval for setting up of one National Investment & Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) namely Hyderabad Pharma City NIMZ in Rangareddy district of Telangana.
    • Setting up of Industrial Park and Industries in different States comes under the purview of the concerned State Government itself.
    • However, Central Government provides support to the States through its scheme/programmes, once the proposal to develop the parks/clusters/industries in a particular region is received from the concerned State Government.


    A team of scientists at the Berkeley Lab has reported some of the properties of element 99 in the periodic table called “Einsteinium”, named after Albert Einstein.


    • With this new study published in the journal Nature last week, for the first time researchers have been able to characterise some of the properties of the element.
    • It was discovered in 1952 in the debris of the first hydrogen bomb (the detonation of a thermonuclear device called “Ivy Mike” in the Pacific Ocean).
    • The most common isotope of the element, einsteinium 253 has a half-life of 20 days.



    A chameleon discovered in the island country of Madagascar by scientists from Germany and Madagascar may be the world’s smallest adult reptile. The discovery has been reported in the journal Scientific Reports.


    • The team found one male and one female of the species, named Brookesia nana, during an expedition in 2012. The male has a length (snout to vent) of 13.5 mm and a total length of 21.6 mm when the tail is included.
    • Previously, the chameleon species Brookesia micra was thought to be the smallest. The average length of adults of this species is 16 mm (29 mm with tail), while the smallest adult male has been recorded at 15.3 mm.
    • Reptiles come in a wide size range. The longest, the reticulated python, at 6.25 m is almost as long as 289 Brookesia nanas.



    Government of India informed Parliament about the initiatives to Promote Farm Mechanization.


    • A special dedicated scheme ‘Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)’ has been introduced by Government of India in 2014-15.
    • The scheme aims at making farm machines accessible and affordable for the small and marginal farmers (SMFs) through establishment of Custom Hiring Centers(CHCs) , creating Hubs for hi-tech & high value farm equipment and Farm Machinery Banks.
    • Distribution of various subsidized agricultural equipment and machines to individual farmer is also one of the activities under the scheme.
    • For 2021-22 Rs. 1050 crore budget has been allocated for SMAM which is more than the previous year.



    In a development that could ratchet up tensions between the United States and Germany, the consortium building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has said that it has resumed work on the controversial project.


    • In 2015, Gazprom and 5 other European energy firms decided to build Nord Stream 2, valued at around $11 billion.
    • The 1,200 km pipeline will run from Ust-Luga in Russia to Greifswald in Germany, and will carry 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
    • The under-construction pipeline will run along the already-completed Nord Stream 1 system, and the two together will supply an aggregate of 110 billion cubic metres of gas to Germany per year.
    • The pipeline falls in German and Danish territory, and all but 150 km of pipes for the project have already been laid.



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a visit to the historic “martyr” town of Dhekiajuli in Assam, to lay the foundation stone for two medical colleges and launch a road and highway project.


    • Dhekiajuli is associated with the Quit India Movement of 1942
    • Dhekiajuli was home to possibly the youngest martyr of the Indian freedom struggle.
    • On September 20, 1942, as part of the Quit India movement, processions of freedom fighters marched to various police stations across several towns in Assam.
    • These squads, which were known as ‘Mrityu Bahini’, or death squads, had wide participation — including women and children — and set out to unfurl the tricolour atop police stations, seen as symbols of colonial power.
    • The British administration came down heavily on them. In Dhekiajuli, at least 15 people were shot dead, three of them women, including the 12-year-old Tileswari Barua.



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 on 10th February.


    • The theme of the Summit is ‘Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all’.
    • It is the 20th edition of The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) flagship event
    • The Summit will bring together a wide number of governments, business leaders, academicians, climate scientists, youth, and the civil society in the fight against climate change.
    • India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Earth Sciences are key partners of the Summit.



    The U.S. announced plans to reengage with the much-maligned UN Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago.


    • What is it? The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system.
    • Location: It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
    • Establishment: It was founded in 2006. It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) that had been strongly criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.


    • It investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states.
    • It also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of expression, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
    • The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).



    Minister of Culture and Tourism informed Parliament about the Measures taken by Government to preserving and promoting the traditional cultural heritage of India.


    • The Ministry of Culture formulated a scheme titled “Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India” , with the objective of promoting the rich Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.
    • India has successfully inscribed 13 Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) elements in the UNESCO Representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity under the 2003 Convention.
    • As the first step towards the making of a National Inventory of ICH, the Ministry of Culture (MoC) has put up a list in April,2020 on its website called “National list for ICH”.
    • The National list of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian Culture embedded in its Intangible Heritage.



    DRDO signed a MoU with Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru for creation of JATP–Center of Excellence (JATP – CoE) in the premises of IISc to expand the scope and objective of existing Joint Advanced Technology Program.


    • The JATP-CoE located in the campus of IISc, Bengaluru will enable Directed Basic & Applied Research and engage with premier research institutes through multi-disciplinary & multi-institutional collaboration.
    • The focused research efforts at the centre will lead to realization of indigenous technologies in the critical areas to develop state of art technologies.
    • As per the MoU, DRDO will support JATP in equipping it with advanced and unique research facilities that will enable the faculty and scholars to conduct advanced research. DRDO will facilitate for advanced research to utilize technology outcome in the futuristic applications.



    A glacier break is suspected to have caused the flash floods in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli.


    • When glaciers melt, the water in glacial lakes accumulates behind loose, natural “glacial/moraine dams” made of ice, sand, pebbles and ice residue.
    • A GLOF refers to the flooding that occurs when the water dammed by a glacier or a moraine is released suddenly.
    • Unlike earthen dams, the weak structure of the moraine dam leads to the abrupt failure of the dam on top of the glacial lake, which holds large volume of water.
    • A failure of the dam has the potential of releasing millions of cubic metres of water in a short period, causing catastrophic flooding downstream.


    A signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] for the construction of the Lalandar [Shatoot] Dam in Afghanistan took place over VTC on 9 February 2021.


    • The MoU was signed by EAM Dr. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister Mr. Hanif Atmar, in the presence of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President of Afghanistan H.E. Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
    • The project is a part of the New Development Partnership between India and Afghanistan.
    • The Lalander [Shatoot] Dam would meet the safe drinking water needs of Kabul City, provide irrigation water to nearby areas, rehabilitate the existing irrigation and drainage network, aid in flood protection and management efforts in the area, and also provide electricity to the region.
    • This is the second major dam being built by India in Afghanistan, after the India- Afghanistan Friendship Dam [Salma Dam], which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister and the President in June 2016.


    Three candidates from the Municipal Corporations of Vadodara and Rajkot were disqualified on Monday under the two-child policy in place in the state for candidates. The nominations were challenged because each candidate had three children.



    • In 2005, the Gujarat government amended the Gujarat Local Authorities Act to “prevent a person having more than two children to be a member of panchayat, or the councillor of a municipality or municipal corporation”.
    • The amendment also added the clause to the other Acts governing elections to local administrative bodies such as the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1949, and the Gujarat Panchayats Act.
    • The rationale behind the two-child policy was said to be the need to “order and stabilise” the growing population of the count.



    Recent flash flood incident in Uttarakhand is another warning of the dangers that a Himalayan state like Uttarakhand faces from natural processes like landslides, snow avalanches cloudbursts or lake bursts.


    • Glaciers are the largest source of freshwater outside of the polar regions. Glaciers and snow melt in the Himalayan ecosystem are the source of water for several rivers across the subcontinent, and are responsible for maintaining the perennial supply of water in the river systems like the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra to over a billion people.
    • But these glaciers have reduced considerably in mass and surface area since the little ice age period.
    • Some models predict that an increase in global temperatures by 2°C from 1850 by 2070 would result in 45% of the medium and large glaciers (10 sq km or more) disappearing completely. Nearly 70% smaller glaciers are likely to melt away.
    • Shrinking glaciers have led to the formation of a large number of glacial lakes all across the Himalayas. Many of these high-altitude lakes are potentially dangerous, because of their potential to cause flash floods in the event of a breach.
    • A 2005 study by Kathmandu-based ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) had listed 127 such lakes in Uttarakhand. More recent studies put the number of such lakes in the state at around 400.



    Department of Social Justice & Empowerment informed Lok Sabha about the Modifications in Pre and Post Matric Scholarship Schemes.

    The scheme wise important changes introduced are as follows:

    • Pre-Matric Scholarship for SC students:
      • The funding pattern under the scheme was revised from the concept of committed liability to a fixed sharing pattern of 60:40 between Centre and the States (90:10 in case of North Eastern States) or Notional Allocation whichever is lower.
      • The Annual Family Income limit was increased from Rs. 2.00 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh in 2018 and rates of maintenance allowances were also increased.
    • Post-Matric Scholarship for Scheduled Castes (SC) students: During the year 2020-21, the Union Cabinet has approved the revision and continuation of the scheme from the year 2020-21 to 2025-26 which includes, inter-alia, revision of funding pattern to a sharing ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and the States (90:10 in case of NE States)
    • Pre-Matric Scholarship for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Post Matric Scholarship for OBCs: The income limit has been changed under Pre Matric Scholarship of OBC and Post Matric Scholarship for OBCs as per details given below:
      • Pre-Matric Scholarship for OBC: increased from Rs.1.00 lakh to Rs. 2.50lakh per annum.
      • Post Matric Scholarship for OBC: increased from Rs.1.50 lakh to Rs.2.50lakh per annum.



    Union Minister for Road Transport has called for all-round efforts by all stakeholders to ensure that deaths due to road accidents are reduced by 50% by 2025.


    • Terming the situation as alarming, the Minister said India stands at number one position in road accidents in the world, ahead of US and China.
    • Some 1.5 lakh people die, and more than 4.5 lakh people are injured in road accidents every year in the country – 415 deaths per day in road accidents.
    • 14 per cent of national GDP is the socio-economic loss from these accidents, and 70% of the deaths are in the age group of 18 to 45 years old.



    Minister of Earth Science informed Rajya Sabha about National Monsoon Mission.


    • Under the Monsoon Mission, Ministry has developed the state-of-the-art weather and climate prediction models, which are now in operational use.
    • These models include models for short range to medium range (1-10 days), extended range (10days to 30 days) and seasonal (up to one season).

    Following are the targets of Monsoon Mission:

    • Development of a seamless prediction system using monsoon mission model, on different time scales, like Seasonal (for whole Monsoon season), Extended range (up-to 4 weeks), Short range prediction (up-to 5days).
    • Initiate and coordinate working partnership between Indian and foreign institutes to develop a system for prediction of extremes and climate applications
    • Develop and implement system for climate applications having social impacts (such as agriculture, flood forecast, extreme events forecast, wind energy, etc.)
    • Advanced data assimilation system for preparing high quality data for model predictions.



    Union Minister of Agriculture informed Lok Sabha about National Research Centre for Makhana.


    • ICAR-National Research Centre (NRC) for Makhana, Darbhanga (Bihar) was sanctioned by the Department of Agricultural Research & Education, Govt. of India, as a new scheme during the IX Five Year Plan period (1997–2002) for Conservation, Research & Development of the Makhana crop.
    • However during Xth plan period (2002-2007), the NRC for Makhana was merged and brought under the administrative control of ICAR-Research Complex for Eastern Region (RCER), Patna, without changing the mandate.
    • Darbhanga in particular and Mithila in general is major Makhana producing region in the country.



    Atomic Minerals Directorate issues a clarification on media reports about Lithium Reserves in Karnataka.


    • Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of Department of Atomic Energy and Geological Survey of India are two agencies which are involved in mineral exploration.
    • Lithium is a key element for new technologies and finds its use in ceramics, glass, telecommunication and aerospace industries.
    • The thermonuclear application makes Lithium as “Prescribed substance” under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 which permits AMD for exploration of Lithium in various geological domains of the country.
    • Recently, news items on Lithium exploration and resource of Allapatna – Marlagalla sector in Srirangapatna Taluk, Mandya district, Karnataka have been published in various media.
    • Reports have been circulated in some media, wherein the estimates of lithium metal have been quoted to be as high as 14,100 tonnes in a small patch of surveyed area in Mandya district of Southern Karnataka.
    • AMD would like to clarify that exploration efforts have so far established ~1600 tonnes lithium in inferred category (low level of confidence) in Allapatna – Marlagalla sector in Srirangapatna taluk, Mandya district, Karnataka.



    Central Government is implementing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) through States/UTs for development and promotion of AYUSH systems of medicine including Ayurvedic system.


    The Mission inter-alia makes following provisions for promotion of AYUSH systems including Ayurvedic system:

    1. Co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community Health Centers (CHCs) and Districts Hospitals (DHs).
    2. Up gradation of exclusive State Government AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries.
    3. Setting up of upto 50 bedded integrated AYUSH Hospital.
    4. Upgradation of State Government Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate Educational Institutions.
    5. Setting up of new State Government AYUSH Educational Institutions in the States where it is not available in Government Sector.
    6. Strengthening of State Government/State Government Co-operatives/Public Sector Undertakings for manufacturing of quality medicines in AYUSH Systems.
    7. Strengthening of State Drug Testing Laboratories for ASU &H Drugs for stringent quality control.
    8. Support for cultivation of Medicinal Plant including processing and post-harvest management to ensure supply of quality raw material for AYUSH medicine and other products.



    Parliament passed the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020. Now the Bill will go to the President of India for his assent.

    The salient features of the Major Port Authorities Bill 2020 are as under:

    • The Bill is more compact in comparison to the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 as the number of sections has been reduced to 76 from 134 by eliminating overlapping and obsolete Sections.
    • The new Bill has proposed a simplified composition of the Board of Port Authority which will comprise of 11 to 13 Members from the present 17 to 19 Members representing various interests.
    • The role of Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has been redefined. Port Authority has now been given powers to fix tariff which will act as a reference tariff for purposes of bidding for PPP projects. PPP operators will be free to fix tariff- based on market conditions.
    • The Board of Port Authority has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets including land.
    • An Adjudicatory Board has been proposed to be created to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for Major Ports, to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires
    • The Boards of Port Authority have been delegated full powers to enter into contracts, planning and development, fixing of tariff except in national interest, security and emergency arising out of inaction and default. In the present MPT Act, 1963 prior approval of the Central Government was required in 22 instances.
    • The Board of each Major Port shall be entitled to create specific master plan in respect of any development or infrastructure.
    • Provisions of CSR & development of infrastructure by Port Authority have been introduced.
    • Provision has been made for safeguarding the pay & allowances and service conditions including pensionary benefits of the employees of major ports



    The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India has launched Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (ASIIM) under Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes (VCF-SC) on 30th September 2020.


    • Objective is to boost entrepreneurship and innovation among the SC students/SC Divyang youth.
    • The companies/entrepreneurs owned by Scheduled Castes enrolled /registered with Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) are eligible to get maximum capital of Rs.30 lakhs over a period of years i.e. Rs.10 lakhs every year.
    • Financial support of up to Rs.10 lakhs per year for a period of 3 years aggregating to Rs.30 Lakhs shall be provided to eligible applicants as equity funding.



    NITI Aayog has constituted a sub-group to prepare a National Action Plan for Migrant Workers.


    • The sub-group comprises the members from various Ministries of Govt. of India, subject experts, NGOs and civil society organisations, to prepare a tangible action plan to address issues related to migrant workers.
    • In order to safeguard the interest of the migrant workers, the Central Government had enacted the Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979.



    Union Agriculture Minister graces the occasion as chief guest on World Pulses Day.


    • The UN General Assembly in 2019 decided to dedicate a day to Pulses to increase awareness and access to pulses globally known as World Pulses Day.
    • The World Pulses Day falls on February 10 every year and recognised Pulses as a global food.
    • On World Pulses Day, people make efforts in creating awareness about the importance of Pulses in sustainable food production.
    • The UN General Assembly after recognizing the value of pulses in 2013, adopted 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).
    • World Pulses Day 2021 theme is #LovePulses.



    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs accorded approval to the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for Grant-in-aid of Rs.100 crore to Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Corporation Limited (BVFCL), Namrup (Assam) to sustain operations of it’s urea manufacturing units.


    • BVFCL, Namrup is a Public Sector Undertaking formed as per Companies Act, under the administrative control of the Department of Fertilizers (DoF), Government of India.
    • At present, the Company is operating its two vintage plants viz. Namrup-ll and Namrup-lll in the premises of BVFCL in Namrup, Assam.
    • The grant in aid of Rs. 100 crore to BVFCL will restore the urea production capacity of 3.90 Lac MT per annum and ensure timely availability of Urea to Tea Industry & Farming Sector in the entire North Eastern region specially Assam.



    Days After the Centre asked Twitter to “suspend or block” nearly 1,200 accounts, citing “misinformation and provocative content” on the farmers’ protest, several ministers and departments of the Union government have started flocking on Koo App — a homemade version of the social networking platform.


    • The microblogging site was co-founded by entrepreneurs Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidwatka. Radhakrishna had founded online cab booking service TaxiForSure, which was subsequently sold to Ola Cabs.
    • While the app was launched in early 2020, its participation and the subsequent winning of the government’s Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge brought it under the limelight.
    • The app, along with other India-made apps like Zoho and Chingari — the local version of TikTok, won the challenge, which was launched by the Centre close on the heels of banning scores of apps with Chinese links citing national security concerns.
    • Following the outcome of the Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge, the app was also mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann Ki Baat address.



    The United Arab Emirates’ first mission to Mars entered the orbit of the red planet, seven months after the Emirati-built ‘Hope Probe’ was launched from Tanegashima in Japan.


    • With this, the UAE has become the fifth country after the US, Russia, China, the EU, and India, to reach the Martian orbit.
    • The unmanned spacecraft is called ‘Al-Amal’ — the Arabic word for hope. The historic event was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE’s seven emirates.
    • First announced in July 2014, the Emirates Mars Mission was developed and operated by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in collaboration with the University California, Berkeley, Arizona State University and the University of Colorado-Boulder in the United States.
    • In July 2020, it was launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan aboard a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-II A rocket.
    • Carrying three instruments, including a high-resolution camera and a spectrometer, the spacecraft is on an orbital mission to collect data on Martian climate dynamics and help scientists understand why Mars’s atmosphere is decaying into space.
    • Hope is the UAE’s fourth space mission and first interplanetary one. The previous three were all Earth-observation satellites.
    • Its overall mission life is one Martian year, which is about 687 days on Earth.



    The Union Budget has announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (in addition to IDBI Bank) and one general insurance company in the upcoming fiscal.


    • It also announced a strategic sale/disinvestment policy for four strategic sectors — including banking, insurance and financial services — in which it will have a “bare minimum presence”.
    • In 2015, the government had suggested privatisation but the then RBI Governor did not favour the idea.



    Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit Assam and West Bengal, where he will address a community vital to upcoming Assembly elections in both states — the Koch Rajbongshis.


    • They are a community that traces its roots to the Kamata kingdom, which comprised parts of Assam, West Bengal and adjoining territories.
    • In the medieval period, the community was dominant and ruled their territory of Kamatapur, which comprised a large part of Bangladesh, West Bengal, Bihar and India’s north-east.
    • After Independence, the princely state of Cooch Behar became part of West Bengal.
    • Today, Koch Rajbongshis are found in Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Bihar, and in Bangladesh, Nepal and some parts of Bhutan.
    • They are estimated to number over 33 lakh in West Bengal, mostly the northern districts, and have a large presence in Assam.


    Capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) imposed a penalty of Rs 1 crore on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in connection with its three-year investigation in the co-location case.


    • The NSE is facing allegations that some brokers got preferential access through the co-location facility at the stock exchange, early login, and ‘dark fiber’, which can allow a trader a split-second faster access to the data feed of an exchange.
    • Even this infinitesimally sooner access is considered to result in huge gains for a trader.
    • Few brokers were able to log into the NSE systems with better hardware specifications while engaged in algorithmic trading, which allowed them unfair access and advantage.
    • The unfair access issue pertains to 2012-14 when NSE used to disseminate price information through a unicast system. In such a system information is disseminated to one member after another.


    Rescue operations resumed at the NTPC’s Tapovan hydel project tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, where about 35 workers were trapped after a snow avalanche triggered flash floods.


    • The Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Plant is a 520 MW run-of-river hydroelectric project being constructed on Dhauliganga River in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand.
    • The plant is expected to generate over 2.5 TWh of electricity annually.
    • Tapovan Vishnugad is NTPC’s second hydro power project since its foray into the sector.
    • Currently, it is in advanced stage of construction. It was severely damaged on 7th February 2021 due to flash flood caused by Uttarakhand glacier burst.


    The Karnataka government issued a notification demarcating boundaries of the newly-formed Vijayanagara district.


    • With Vijayanagara, the state now has 31 districts.
    • Named after the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire, the new district was carved out from Ballari under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964.
    • Vijayanagara, located in Hyderabad-Karnataka region, is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage sites – Hampi and Virupaksha Temple.
    • With Hosapete as its headquarters, Vijayanagara has six taluks – Hosapete, Kudligi, Hagaribommanahalli, Kotturu, Hoovina Hadagali, and Harapanahalli.


    With the goal to enable talented innovative students and start-ups from Australia and India to address common national issues through innovative technology solutions, About Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) kick started the India-Australia Circular Economy (I-ACE) Hackathon, 2021.


    • I-ACE is supported by the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), AIM Atal Incubation Centre network, and various domain experts.
    • A ‘circular economy’ model, which employs not only waste management, but reuse, recycling and responsible manufacture can support the development of new industries and jobs, reducing emissions and increasing efficient use of natural resources.

    The four key themes for the hackathon are as follows:

    • Innovation in packaging reducing packaging waste
    • Innovation in food supply chains avoiding waste
    • Creating opportunities for plastic waste reduction
    • Recycling critical energy metals and e-waste


    Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) has launched a Seaweed Mission for commercial farming of seaweeds and its processing for value addition towards boosting national economy.

    The Mission envisages the following activities:

    • Establishing model demonstration farms over one hectare for cultivation of economically important seaweeds in nearshore and onshore along the Indian coast
    • Establishment of seaweed nurseries for supplying seed material for large scale farming of economically important seaweeds in the country
    • Onshore cultivation for (i) Seedling supply facility (ii) Seaweed cultivation for processing
    • Setting up of processing plant for integrated production of plant growth stimulants (sap) along with industrially important cell wall polysaccharides (phycocolloids) such as agar, agarose, carrageenan and alginates from fresh seaweeds


    Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) has launched SAKSHAM (Shramik Shakti Manch).


    • It is a dynamic job portal for mapping the skills of Shramiks vis-à-vis requirements of MSMEs to directly connect Shramiks with MSMEs and facilitate placement of 10 lakh blue-collar jobs.
    • The SAKSHAM job portal will help eliminate middlemen/ labour contractor as well as help identification of skill proficiency level and development of Skill Cards for Shramiks.
    • The portal with the demand and supply data uses algorithm and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, for geo spatial information on demand and availability of Shramiks, and also provide analysis on skill training programmes of Shramiks.
    • The pilot portal originally initiated with two districts is now being launched as an all India portal.


    India’s first-ever diesel Tractor, converted to CNG, will be formally launched by the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways on February 12, 2021.


    The conversion, carried out jointly by Rawmatt Techno Solutions & Tomasetto Achille India, will help farmers increase their income, by lowering costs, and help to create job opportunities in rural India.

    The more specific benefits of converting the Tractor to CNG for a farmer are :  

    • The test reports indicates that the retrofitted tractor produces more power/equal in comparison to Diesel-run engine.
    • Overall emissions are reduced by 70% as compared to Diesel.
    • It will help farmers to save up to 50% on the fuel cost as the current Diesel prices are Rs.77.43/L whereas CNG is only Rs.42/kg.


    Prime Minister Modi initiated a scheme for development of commercial organic farming in the region during 2015 which later became to be known as “Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region” (MOVCDNER).


    • The scheme started with an average annual allocation of Rs. 134 crore during last five years has so far covered 74,880 ha area.
    • To double the impact the allocation has now increased to Rs. 200 crore per year with a target to cover additional 1.00 lakh ha area under 200 new FPOs over a period of 3 year period.
    • The scheme besides growing and value adding the traditional crops is also aiming to bring in high-value crops under contract farming models.
    • Transformation of farmer clusters into Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) ensures emergence of new breed of organic agri-enterprises


    World Unani Day was celebrated on February 11, 2021 to spread awareness about health care delivery through Unani system of medicine through its preventive and curative philosophy.

    Hakim Ajmal Khan:

    • World Unani Day is celebrated every year to mark the birth anniversary of Hakim Ajmal Khan.
    • He was an eminent Indian Unani physician who was a versatile genius, a great scholar, a social reformer, a noted freedom fighter, a Unani medical educationist and founder of scientific research in Unani System of Medicine.
    • He was one of the founders of the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi.

    Important Info :

    • Principles of Unani System: The Unani system postulates the presence of four humours in the body: dam (blood), balgham (phlegm), safra (yellow bile) and sauda (black bile), a parallel to kapha, vata and pitta, the three doshas in ayurveda. The quality and quantity of four humors affect the state of health and disease in the body.
    • Origin: Unani system originated in Greece. The theoretical framework of Unani medicine is based on the work of Hippocrates (460-377 BC).
    • Role of Arabs: The system owes its present form to the Arabs who not only saved much of the Greek literature by rendering it into Arabic but also enriched it with their own contributions.
    • Indian scenario: In India, it was introduced by Arabs and Persians sometime around the eleventh century.



    The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, will open the annual “Udyanotsav” of Rashtrapati Bhavan on February 12, 2021. The Mughal Gardens will remain open for the general public from February 13, 2021 to March 21, 2021.


    The Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, is flanked by the iconic Mughal gardens — spread over 15 acres.

    • The gardens are a blend of the Mughal and English style of gardening and is inspired by the Persian Charbagh style. It is replete with canals, fountains, elaborate flower beds, well-trimmed shrubs, and a near endless variety of flowers.
    • A part of the gardens — comprising the Herbal Garden, the Bonsai Garden, the main Mughal Garden, the Spiritual Garden — is open to the public every year in February-March under the event called the Udyanotsav (translates to ‘Garden Festival’).



    On the International Day of Women & Young Girls in Science, Ministry of Women & Child Development in association with Ministry of Education and MyGov, Ministry of Electronics and Information technology launched an online campaign.


    • Objective of the campaign is to celebrate women who have carved a niche for themselves in the field of STEM and also encourage young girls who aspire to excel in STEM and contribute towards nation building.
    • The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is the 11th day of February, by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on 22 December 2015.
    • The day recognises the critical role women and girls play in science and technology. The day’s purpose is to promote full and equal access to participation in science for women and girls.


    For the first time, Tholpavakkoothu, the famous shadow leather puppets will tell stories of the epic Ramayana with the help of robots.


    • Tholpavakoothu is a form of shadow puppetry that is practiced in Kerala, India.
    • It is performed using leather puppets as a ritual dedicated to Bhadrakali and is performed in Devi temples in specially built theatres called koothumadams.
    • This art form is especially popular in the Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram districts of Kerala.
    • It is believed to have originated in the ninth century AD and uses Kamba Ramayana as its basic text.
    • The puppets used in Tholpavakoothu used to be made out of deerskin but are now typically made from goatskin.
    • The puppets are painted in vegetable dyes, as these dyes last long.



    Educated youngsters are showing the way forward to reduce caste and community tensions in India by tying the knot in inter-marriages, the Supreme Court said in a recent judgment.


    • Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners, which, in turn, is a departure from the earlier norms of society where caste and community play a major role.
    • Possibly, this is the way forward where caste and community tensions will reduce by such inter-marriages
    • Justice Kaul quoted B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, in which the Father of the Constitution said, “I am convinced that the real remedy is intermarriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin and will vanish the separatist feeling created by caste.
    • Consent of the family or community or clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy.



    A study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru has debunked the assumption that damage to health from excessive consumption of alcohol can be reversed if one stops drinking.


    • Excessive alcohol consumption can cause irreversible changes to the DNA and these can persist even when alcohol is no longer consumed, revealed a study conducted by a team of researchers at NIMHANS.
    • The study has been published online in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
    • The study tracked patients at NIMHANS’ Centre for Addiction Medicine outpatient clinic from March 2015 to April 2016.
    • Although we inherit genes from our parents, their expression is regulated in a unique manner in each person, and may be influenced by their lifestyle. Exposure to alcohol affects the pattern of gene expression, and may explain some of the systemic complications.
    • Researchers analysed the DNA chemistry of individuals who had been drinking on an average of 10 drinks/day.



    Lok Sabha today gave its nod to Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2021.


    • The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on February 4, 2021.
    • It seeks to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Act contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration and defines the law for conducting conciliation proceedings.
    • The Bill replaces an Ordinance with same provisions promulgated on November 4, 2020.
    • Automatic stay on awards: The Bill specifies that a stay on the arbitral award can be provided (even during the pendency of the setting aside of the application) if the court is satisfied that:
      • the relevant arbitration agreement or contract, or
      • the making of the award, was induced, or effected by fraud or corruption.
      • This change will be effective from October 23, 2015.



    It has been reported that an old project to facilitate the movement of hilsa upstream along the Ganga to its spawning grounds of yore may come to fruition this year.


    • In scientific parlance, the hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) is an anadromous fish.
    • That is, it lives most of its life in the ocean, but during the rainy season, when it is time to spawn, the hilsa moves towards the estuary, where the rivers of India and Bangladesh meet the Bay of Bengal.
    • A large part of the shoal travels upstream in the Padma and the Ganga — some are known to move towards the Godavari, and there are records of hilsa migration to the Cauvery.

    Farakka Barrage Lock

    • Historical records also show that until the 1970s, the hilsa would swim the Ganga upstream to Allahabad — and even to Agra.
    • But the Farakka Barrage, which became operational on the Ganga in 1975, disrupted the westward movement of the hilsa.
    • The barrage had a navigation lock that stopped the fish from swimming upstream beyond Farakka. In Buxar on the border of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the last recorded catch of the hilsa was made 32 years ago.


    The disappearance of three established international mountaineers while attempting to scale the world’s second highest peak, K2, in winter has spotlighted the extreme version of the sport – winter climbing.


    • ‘Alpine style’ mountaineering involves ascending with only the minimum number of breaks, and without the assistance of porters.
    • The mountaineer carries all of his/her load, including food, equipment, tents, etc. There is no scope for acclimatisation – which may take several days at high altitudes – as climbers make a dash for the summit.
    • The alpine style contrasts with the ‘expedition’ or ‘siege’ style of climbing, in which climbers go from one camp to another to acclimatise.
    • Winter climbing is always tougher than pre-monsoon, post-monsoon and summer climbing.
    • Many consider alpine style to be the most aesthetically “pure” form of mountaineering.
    • The benefits of alpine style include spending much less time on the route, thereby reducing objective dangers such as avalanches or blizzards.
    • The problems encountered while alpine style climbing are related to lack of support and potentially the lack of acclimatization associated with spending less time at very high altitudes.


    Earlier this week, the prototype of a new rail travel class, AC-III Economy, was finalised for oscillation trails at the Indian Railways’ Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in Lucknow.


    • This class is meant to be an affordable, air-conditioned version of the non-AC Sleeper class.
    • The job of creating this was given last year to state-owned Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala, the maker of the Linke Hoffmann Busche coaches in India.
    • The design philosophy was to take a non-AC Sleeper coach as reference and try and turn that into an AC coach.
    • AC-III tier is the only travel class that makes a clear profit for Railways, and is also said to be the most popular. AC-III Economy is expected to maintain that — and provide AC travel to the masses while keeping it affordable.



    Union Minister of Women and Child Development informed Lok Sabha about the steps related to Child Beggars.


    • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) is the primary law for children in the country.
      • As per Section 2 (14) (ii) of the JJ Act,2015, a child who is found working in contravention of labour laws or is found begging is included as a “child in need of care and protection”, among others.
      • As per Section 76 of JJ Act, whoever employs any child for the purpose of begging shall be punishable with imprisonment upto five years and fine of one lakh rupees.
    • The Ministry implements a centrally sponsored scheme i.e. Child Protection Services (CPS) under the umbrella Integrated Child Development Services scheme, for supporting the children in difficult circumstances including child beggars and destitute children.
      • Under the scheme, institutional care is provided through Child Care Institutions (CCIs), as a rehabilitative measure.
      • The scheme supports 24×7 emergency outreach/ helpline service for children in distress conditions. The service is accessible through a dedicated toll free number, 1098 from anywhere in India.
    • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has undertaken a pilot project for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Persons engaged in the act of begging in ten (10) cities. It includes education of children engaged in begging/children of persons engaged in the begging.



    Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar paid tributes to Swami Dayanand Saraswati on his birth anniversary on February 12, 2021.


    • Dayananda Saraswati (12 February 1824 – 30 October 1883) was an Indian philosopher, social leader and founder of the Arya Samaj, a reform movement of the Vedic dharma.
    • He was the first to give the call for Swaraj as “India for Indians” in 1876, a call later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak.
    • Denouncing the idolatry and ritualistic worship, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies.
    • Subsequently, the philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan called him one of the “makers of Modern India”, as did Sri Aurobindo.
    • Those who were influenced by and followed Dayananda included Madam Cama, Swami Shraddhanand, Shyamji Krishna Varma, Bhagat Singh, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Lala Lajpat Rai etc.
    • He was a sanyasi (ascetic) from boyhood and a scholar. He believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Dayananda advocated the doctrine of Karma and Reincarnation.
    • Among Dayananda’s contributions were his promoting of the equal rights for women, such as the right to education and reading of Indian scriptures, and his commentary on the Vedas from Vedic Sanskrit in Sanskrit as well as in Hindi.



    World Radio Day (WRD) is being observed on February 13.


    • The day was proclaimed by the member states of UNESCO in 2011 and subsequently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as an International Day.
    • According to UNESCO, radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse.
    • According to UNESCO, On the occasion of World Radio Day 2021 (WRD 2021), UNESCO calls on radio stations to celebrate this event’s 10th anniversary and the more than 110 years of radio.
    • The theme of World Radio Day 2021, “New World, New Radio”, will highlight the services rendered by the radio medium throughout the crisis.


    Activist Rona Wilson, who has been imprisoned since June 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case, filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking a stay on proceedings against him.


    • His petition referred to a report brought out by Arsenal Consulting, a digital forensics consulting company based in Massachusetts, which was hired by Mr. Wilson’s defence team.
    • The Arsenal Consulting report states that for 22 months, Mr. Wilson’s computer was controlled by an attacker whose goal was to deliver incriminating documents onto his computer, which formed the basis of the case against him.

    What is NetWire?

    • NetWire, which first surfaced in 2012, is a well-known malware. It is also one of the most active ones around.
    • It is a remote access trojan, or RAT, which gives control of the infected system to an attacker.
    • Such malware can log keystrokes and compromise passwords.
    • Malware essentially do two things.
      • One is data exfiltration, which means stealing data. Most anti-virus software are equipped to prevent this.
      • The other involves infiltrating a system, and this has proven to be far more challenging for anti-virus software.
    • NetWire is described as an off-the-shelf malware, while something like Pegasus, which used a bug in WhatsApp to infiltrate users’ phones in 2019, is custom-made and sold to nations.



    Authorities have initiated preliminary steps to demolish the illegally constructed villas of Kapico Kerala Resorts Private Limited on Nediyathuruthu island in Vembanad Lake.


    • Vembanad (Vembanad Kayal or Vembanad Kol) is the longest lake in India and the largest lake in the state of Kerala.
    • With an area of 2033 square kilometres, it is the second largest Ramsar site in India only after the Sundarbans in West Bengal.
    • Spanning several districts in Kerala, it is known as Vembanadu Lake in Kottayam, Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha and Kochi Lake in Kochi.
    • Several groups of small islands including Vypin, Mulavukad, Vallarpadam, Willingdon Island are located in the Kochi Lake portion. Kochi Port is built around the Willingdon Island and the Vallarpadam island.
    • The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is conducted in a portion of the lake.
    • The Government of India has identified the Vembanad wetland under the National Wetlands Conservation Programme.



    Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi known as “Super Mario” was formally sworn in as Italy’s new Prime Minister, against the backdrop of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and a crippling recession.


    • Mario Draghi (born 1947) is an Italian economist, central banker and politician, who is serving as Prime Minister of Italy since 13 February 2021.
    • He previously served as President of the European Central Bank from 2011 until 2019.
    • He presided over the institution throughout the Eurozone crisis, and became famous throughout Europe for saying that he would be prepared to do “whatever it takes” to prevent the Euro from failing.
    • Draghi was also the Chair of the Financial Stability Board from 2009 to 2011 and Governor of the Bank of Italy from 2005 to 2011.



    Scientists have unveiled the detailed genome of the malaria mosquito vector, revealing thousands of new genes vital for the development of genetic control strategies of disease transmission.



    • In order to engineer advanced forms of defence against malaria transmission, including targeted CRISPR and gene drive–based strategies, scientists require intricate knowledge of the genomes of vector mosquitoes.
    • CRISPR technology is a gene-editing tool which allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
    • They produced a new reference genome for the Asian malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi.
    • With the newly upgraded Anopheles stephensi genome, the team unearthed more than 3,000 genes that previously evaded scrutiny and which offer fresh gene-drive targets, play key roles in blood feeding and the metabolism of ingested blood meal, reproduction and immunity against microbial parasites.
    • This reference genome should help malaria biologists in India, particularly in view of the national goal of malaria elimination in India by 2030.


    The Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship launched the “Skill training on Gender Sensitisation and Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) at the workplace”.



    • This was launched in partnership with Management and Entrepreneurship and Professional Skill Council (MEPSC) as the Implementation Agency for the project.
    • The six-month project will be implemented in 15 districts across 3 states of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab to train 1800 trainees and 240 training professionals.



    The Union Minister of Skill Development rolled out the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF).


    • The fellows under MGNF will acquire academic expertise and technical competency in understanding the overall skill ecosystem along with being attached to District Skill Committees (DSCs).
    • It will help them manage the skill development planning at district level through the mechanism of formulating District Skill Development Plans (DSDPs).
    • With the successful launch of MGNF in the first pilot (MGNF) which had 69 fellows working across 69 districts, the Ministry is now expanding MGNF to all remaining districts in the country.
    • For retaining the standard of academic excellence and reputation in MGNF, the Ministry is seeking academic partnership with only the IIMs and have roped in nine IIMs for the national roll out of MGNF.



    The Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship chaired a function ‘Transforming skilling through strategic partnerships under SANKALP’.


    • SANKALP (Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion) is a World Bank loan assisted programme to strengthen the district skill administration and the District Skill Committees (DSCs).
    • The two-year academic programme comes with an in-built component of on-ground practical experience with the district administration.
    • To further bolster the trainer ecosystem, the SANKALP programme will also support in Training of Trainer (ToT) system in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode that a collaborative approach between industry and the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) ecosystem.
    • MSDE has instituted the “Awards for Excellence in District Skill Development Planning (DSDP Awards)” under SANKALP in 2018.



    Union Ministry of Minority Affairs will organise “Mushaira” on the theme of “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat” in New Delhi on 20th February 2021 where renowned poets of the country will present their couplet.


    • Mushaira is a poetic symposium. It is an event (called mehfil, mushairi) where poets gather to recite their work so that they may enjoy, criticise, and ultimately appreciate what was recited.
    • it is a part of the culture of Pakistan, North India and the Deccan esp. among the Hyderabadi Muslims.
    • Urdu Mushaira reach its final, decisive form in 18th century and was popularised by Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor of India.



    11th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’ to be inaugurated on 14th February, 2021 at Cooch Behar Palace at Cooch Behar in West Bengal.


    • Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav is the flagship festival of this Ministry of culture.
    • It is organized since 2015 with the active participation of Seven Zonal Culture Centres has been playing a pivotal role to take the vibrant culture of India out to the masses instead of confining to auditoria and galleries.
    • It has been instrumental in showcasing, folk and tribal art, dance, music, cuisines & culture of one state in other states.
    • Ten editions of RSM have been held till date since November, 2015 in various states and cities such as Delhi, Varanasi, Bengaluru, Tawang, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tehri and Madhya Pradesh.
    • The eleventh edition of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav is being held between 14th to 28th February, 2021 in West Bengal at Cooch Behar (14th to 16th February, 2021), Darjeeling (22nd to 24th February, 2021) and Murshidabad (27th to 28th February, 2021).


    BL Lacertae

    Indian Astronomers have reported one of the strongest flares from a feeding supermassive black hole or blazar called BL Lacertae.


    • Blazars or feeding supermassive black holes in the heart of distant galaxies receive a lot of attention from the astronomical community because of their complicated emission mechanism.
    • They emit jets of charged particles traveling nearly at the speed of light and are one of the most luminous and energetic objects in the Universe.
    • BL Lacertae blazar is 10 million light-years away and is among the 50 most prominent blazars that can be observed with the help of a relatively small telescope.
    • It was among the 3 to 4 blazars that was predicted to be experiencing flares by the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT), an international consortium of astronomers.



    Floating in the Maguri – Motapung beel (or wetland) in Assam’s Tinsukia district for over a week is the spectacular and rare Mandarin duck. First spotted on February 8 by Madhab Gogoi, the duck has since become the star of the wetland.


    • Considered the most beautiful duck in the world, the Mandarin duck, or the (Aix galericulata) was first identified by Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
    • It is a “small-exotic looking bird” native to East Asia.
    • The migratory duck breeds in Russia, Korea, Japan and north-eastern parts of China, explained Gogoi. It now has established populations in Western Europe and America too.
    • The duck, however, rarely visits India as it does not fall in its usual migratory route.
    • Its IUCN Status is Least Concern.
    • While the duck is not a globally threatened species, spotting one is always considered significant because they only make “rare appearances.”



    Prime Minister Modi handed over the indigenously developed Arjun Main Battle Tank (MK-1A) to the Indian Army at a ceremony in Chennai. The army will get 118 units of the Main Battle Tank, indigenously designed, developed and manufactured by CVRDE and DRDO along with 15 academic institutions, eight labs and several MSMEs.


    • The Arjun Main Battle Tank project was initiated by DRDO in 1972 with the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) as its lead laboratory.
    • Mass production began in 1996 at the Indian Ordnance Factory’s production facility in Avadi, Tamil Nadu.
    • The Indian Army received the first batch of 16 tanks in 2004 and they were inducted as a squadron of the 43 Armoured Regiment. In 2009, the first Arjun regiment of the Indian Army had 45 tanks.


    • The Arjun tanks stand out for their ‘Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS)’ ammunition and 120-mm calibre rifled gun.
    • It also has a computer-controlled integrated fire control system with stabilised sighting that works in all lighting conditions. The secondary weapons include a co-axial 7.62-mm machine gun for anti-personnel and a 12.7-mm machine gun for anti-aircraft and ground targets.



    The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued orders that all steel – whether produced from ore, billets, pellets or melting of scrap – would be allowed to be used for National Highway construction, as long as it meets the standards required for specific grades of steel.


    • The steel proposed to be used would be tested in NABL-accredited laboratories as a third party check before approval.
    • Earlier, the contract provisions required use of steel produced by primary/integrated steel producers only.
    • In view of the increase in steel prices, which can impact the cost of building national highways, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways had suggested the need to re-look at all conditions which could be restrictive.
    • With this step, the supplier base for steel used in the construction of national highways would increase, leading to more competition and better price discovery by the markets.
    • This is also part of the continuous effort by the Minister to reduce costs through use of new technology, reducing restrictions on suppliers and making the procurement system transparent.



    Andhra Pradesh held panchayat elections in three villages in the Kotia cluster, which is at the centre of a dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. This is the first time Andhra has held panchayat polls in any of these villages.


    • These villages, with a population of nearly 5,000, are located on a remote hilltop on the inter-state border and are inhabited by Kondh tribals.
    • The region is also rich in mineral resources like gold, platinum, manganese, bauxite, graphite and limestone.
    • In the early 1980s, Odisha filed a case in the Supreme Court demanding right and possession of jurisdiction over the 21 villages.
    • In 2006 however, the court ruled that since disputes belonging to the state boundaries are not within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the matter can only be resolved by Parliament and passed a permanent injunction on the disputed area.



    Spain’s Catalonia voted in an election overshadowed by the pandemic and which Madrid hopes will unseat the region’s ruling separatists more than three years after a failed bid to break away from Spain. The vote in the wealthy north-eastern region could see a high level of abstentions as Spain battles a third wave of coronavirus infections.


    • Catalonia is an autonomous community in the north-eastern corner of Spain.
    • Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona.
    • It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south.
    • Since the 2010s there has been growing support for Catalan independence. On 27 October 2017, the Catalan Parliament declared unilaterally independence following a disputed referendum.



    Prime Minister Modi will lay the foundation stone of development work of Chittaura Lake on 16th February 2021.



    • Chittaura Jheel, also known as Ashtwarka jheel is a lake in Uttar Pradesh.
    • It is situated about 8 km from Bahraich city, on Gonda road, near Jittora or Chittaura village.
    • A small river, Teri Nadi, flows from this lake.
    • Chittaura Jheel is a Hindu pilgrimage site. According to local legends, Ashtwarka Muni, the Guru of Maharaja Janak used to live here in his ashram.
    • The area beside the lake is also the site of an 11th-century battle between the Hindu king Suhaldev and the Muslim invader Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud.



    Prime Minister Modi will lay the foundation stone of Maharaja Suheldev Memorial on 16th February 2021.


    • The event in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh marks the birth anniversary of Maharaja Suheldev.
    • Suhaldev or Suheldev was an Indian king from Shravasti, popularly known to have defeated and killed the Ghaznavid general Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud at Bahraich in 1034 CE.
    • He is mentioned in the 17th century Persian-language historical romance Mirat-i-Masudi written by Abd-ur-Rahman Chishti during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir.
    • Since the 20th century, various Hindu nationalist groups have characterized him as a Hindu King who defeated a Muslim invader.



    The Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated and laid the foundation stones for several key projects at Chennai.


    • The Prime Minister inaugurated the Chennai Metro Rail Phase-I extension, fourth Railway line between Chennai Beach and Attipattu, Railway Electrification of single line section in Villupuram – Cuddalore – Mayiladuthurai – Thanjavur and Mayiladuthurai-Thiruvarur.
    • Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the extension, renovation and modernization of the Grand Anicut Canal System and Discovery Campus of IIT Madras.
    • The Central Government has accepted the long-standing demand of DevendrakulaVelalar community to be known officially as DevendrakulaVelalar. They will now be known by their heritage name and not the six to seven names listed in the Schedule to the Constitution.
    • Government has always taken care of the welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka. PM Modi is the only Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna. To boost connectivity, the railway network to Jaffna and to Mannar is being re-built. India has built the Jaffna Cultural Centre which will open soon



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated and laid foundation stone of various projects in Kochi, Kerala


    • The inauguration of Sagarika, the International Cruise Terminal in Kochi will cater to over a lakh cruise guests. It is the country’s first full-fledged international cruise terminal.
    • He also inaugurated the Marine Engineering Training Institute of Cochin Shipyard Ltd. Vigyan Sagar, the new knowledge campus of Cochin Shipyard would particularly help those wanting to study marine engineering.
    • South Coal Berth would bring down logistics costs and improve cargo capacities.
    • Propylene Derivative Petrochemical Project (PDPP) will help strengthen India’s journey towards being Aatmanirbhar as it will save foreign exchange.
    • With Ro-Ro Vessels, a distance of almost thirty kilometres on road will become 3.5 kilometres through waterways leading to less congestion and more convenience, commerce and capacity-building.



    The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) informed Rajya Sabha about the Status of Skilled Youths in India.


    • MSDE is implementing its flagship demand-driven Centrally Sponsored Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), for imparting short duration skill development training through Short-Term Training (STT) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) to youth across all States/UTs.
    • Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) Scheme aims at providing vocational skills to non-literates, neo-literates as well as school dropouts by identifying skills that have a market in the region of their establishment.
    • National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) is for promoting apprenticeship training and increasing the engagement of apprentices by providing financial support to industrial establishments undertaking apprenticeship programme under The Apprentices Act, 1961.
    • Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS): Long term training programme in 137 trades are provided through 14,788 ITIs in the country.


    Proposals for tourism and port development in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands have conservationists worried over the fate of some of the most important nesting populations of the Giant Leatherback turtle in this part of the Indian Ocean.


    • Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is largest of the seven species of sea turtles on the planet and also the most long-ranging, being found in all oceans except the Arctic and the Antarctic.
    • Within the Indian Ocean, they nest only in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    • It is the only living species in the genus Dermochelys and family Dermochelyidae.
    • It can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell, hence the name. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh.
    • They are listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, according it the highest legal protection.

    Budget 2021:

    • The A&N Islands are prominent in the National Marine Turtle Action Plan released on February 1, 2021, by the Ministry of Environment.
    • The plan notes that “India has identified all its important sea turtle nesting habitats as ‘Important Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Areas’ and included them in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) – 1”.
    • South Bay and West Bay on Little Andaman and Galathea on Great Nicobar, along with other nesting beaches in the islands, find a specific mention here as “Important Marine Turtle Habitats in India” and the largest Leatherback nesting grounds in India.



    The World Trade Organization (WTO) has chosen Nigeria’s former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its first female and first African leader, handing her the task of restoring trust in a rules-based global trading system.


    • The WTO’s 164 members unanimously selected the 66-year-old development economist to serve a four-year term as director general.
    • The appointment came after new United States President Joe Biden endorsed her candidacy, which had been blocked by former President Donald Trump.
    • Okonjo-Iweala, formerly Nigeria’s finance minister, had a 25-year career at the World Bank, where she rose to the number-two position of managing director. She holds both US and Nigerian citizenship.
    • The World Trade Organization is an international body that deals with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated among the bulk of the world’s nations and ratified in their legislatures.



    The Ministry of Science and Technology Monday released new guidelines for the Geo-spatial sector in India, which deregulates existing protocol and liberalises the sector to a more competitive field.


    • Geospatial data is data about objects, events, or phenomena that have a location on the surface of the earth.
    • The location may be static in the short-term, like the location of a road, an earthquake event, malnutrition among children, or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.
    • Geospatial data combines location information, attribute information (the characteristics of the object, event, or phenomena concerned), and often also temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist.
    • Geo-spatial data usually involves information of public interest such as roads, localities, rail lines, water bodies, and public amenities.
    • The past decade has seen an increase in the use of geo-spatial data in daily life with various apps such as food delivery apps like Swiggy or Zomato, e-commerce like Amazon or even weather apps.



    Diesel and petrol prices have hit record highs across the country, with petrol touching Rs 89 per litre in Delhi, and diesel reaching a new high of Rs 86.30 per litre in Mumbai.


    • The government reasons that global crude oil prices have risen by more than 50 per cent to over $63.3 per barrel since October, forcing oil retailers to increase pump prices.
    • Retail petrol and diesel prices are in theory decontrolled — or linked to global crude oil prices. Which means that if crude prices fall, as has largely been the trend since February, retails prices should come down too, and vice versa.
    • But this does not happen in practice, largely because oil price decontrol is a one-way street in India. So, when global prices go up, the resultant increase is passed on to the consumer, who has to cough up more for every litre of fuel consumed.
    • But when the reverse happens and prices slide, the government, almost by default, slaps fresh taxes and levies to ensure that it rakes in extra revenues.
    • The main beneficiary in this subversion of price decontrol is the government. The consumer is a clear loser, as are the fuel retailing companies.
    • Brent crude, which was trading at about $40 per barrel between June and October, started rising in November, and has gone past the $60 per barrel mark as the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines gathers pace.
    • The controlled production of crude amid rising demand has been another key factor in boosting oil prices, with Saudi Arabia voluntarily cutting its daily output by 1 million barrels per day to 8.125 million barrels per day through February and March.



    Basant Panchami and Saraswati Puja are being celebrated in different parts of the country.


    • Basant Panchami or Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of the spring season – Basant means spring and Panchami means “the fifth day” (or Panchmi of Shukla Paksha in Magh Maas).
    • The day is also celebrated as Saraswati Puja and the Hindu goddess of wisdom and knowledge, Saraswati, is worshipped on this day.
    • Regions: Saraswati Puja on Vasant Panchami is more popular in Bengal, Odisha and North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh.



    The National Informatics Centre has launched an instant messaging platform called Sandes on the lines of WhatsApp.


    • Like WhatsApp, the new NIC platform can be used for all kinds of communications by anyone with a mobile number or email id.
    • The instant messaging app, called Sandes, has an interface similar to many other apps currently available in the market.
    • Although there is no option to transfer the chat history between two platforms, the chats on government instant messaging systems (GIMS) can be backed up to a users’ email.
    • GIMS, like other instant messaging apps in the market, uses a valid mobile number or email id to register the user for the first time. It also offers features such as group making, broadcast message, message forwarding and emojis.



    The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has said that the reports appearing in media about delisting of Devendra Kula Vellalar community from SC soon are completely misinformed.


    • The Ministry has clarified that the news is misleading and does not reflect the actual position.
    • It has stated that the Cabinet has approved for categorising (7) SC communities into Devendra Kula Vellalar which would also be a part of the Scheduled Castes list of Tamil Nadu.
    • Therefore, the statement that they will be delisted from SCs and would be made OBCs is completely incorrect and it may be clarified that the statement does not reflect the correct position.
    • The Ministry has further clarified that a Bill for categorising (7) SC communities into Devendra Kula Vellalar under SC list to Tamil Nadu is already introduced in the Lok Sabha.



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation and lay the foundation of key projects of the oil & gas sector in Tamil Nadu on 17th February 2021.


    • Prime Minister will dedicate to the nation the Ramanathapuram – Thoothukudi natural gas pipeline.
      • The Ramanathapuram – Thoothukudi section (143 km) of the Ennore- Thiruvallur- Bengaluru- Puducherry- Nagapattinam- Madurai- Tuticorin Natural Gas Pipeline has been laid at the cost of about Rs. 700 crores.
      • It will help utilise gas from ONGC Gas fields and deliver natural gas as feedstock to industries and other commercial customers.
    • He will also dedicate the Gasoline Desulphurisation Unit at Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited, Manali. It will produce low sulphur (less than 8 ppm) environment-friendly gasoline, help reduce emission and contribute towards a cleaner environment.
    • He will also lay the foundation stone of Cauvery Basin Refinery at Nagapattinam.
      • It will have a capacity of 9 million metric tonnes per annum. It will be set up through a Joint Venture of IOCL and CPCL at an estimated project cost of Rs. 31,500 crore.
      • It will produce Motor Spirit and Diesel meeting BS-VI specifications, and Polypropylene as a value-added product.


    The Prime Minister Modi has handed over a Chadar that would be offered at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah on the 809th Urs of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.


    • Ajmer Sharif Dargah is a sufi shrine (dargah) of the revered sufi saint, Moinuddin Chishti, located at Ajmer, Rajasthan. The shrine has Chisti’s grave (Maqbara).
    • The Urs festival is an annual festival held at Ajmer, Rajasthan which commemorates the anniversary of the death of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, (founder of the Chishtiya Sufi order in India).
      • It is held over six days and features night-long dhikr (zikr) qawwali singing.
      • The anniversary is celebrated in the seventh month of the Islamic lunar calendar.



    International Solar Alliance (ISA) has announced Dr. Ajay Mathur as its new Director General following his election at the first special assembly of ISA members.


    • Dr Mathur replaces Mr Upendra Tripathy, who has served as Director General since the inception of the ISA.
    • A coalition of 73 member countries, ISA was established in 2015 to accelerate the demand for and use of safe, sustainable, and affordable solar energy for all.
    • It aims to mobilize over one trillion dollars of investment into solar projects by 2030 through focused advocacy, policy and regulatory support, capacity building, and by overcoming perceived investment barriers.


    Dr. Kiran Bedi has been removed from the post of Puducherry Lieutenant Governor. Telangana Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan has been given additional charge as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.


    • Article 153 of the Indian constitution states that here shall be Governor for each State.
    • Nothing in this article shall prevent the appointment of the same person as Governor for two or more States



    Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh launched E-Chhawani portal and mobile app in New Delhi on February 16, 2021.


    • The portal (https://echhawani.gov.in/) has been created to provide online civic services to over 20 lakh residents of 62 Cantonment Boards across the country.
    • Through the portal, the residents of cantonment areas will be able to avail basic services like renewal of leases, application for birth & death certificates, water & sewerage connections, trade licences with just a click of a button.
    • The portal is jointly developed by eGov Foundation, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE) and National Informatics Centre (NIC).



    Two more rovers — NASA’s Perseverance and China’s Tianwen-1 — are set to land on Mars on February 18 and in May 2021 respectively.

    NASA’s Perseverance Rover

    • The most sophisticated mission from an engineering standpoint, NASA’s Perseverance Rover, is en route to Mars, and is set to land on Thursday at Jezero Crater, which was likely filled with water in the past.
    • Perseverance is NASA’s 4th generation Mars Rover
    • The goal is to look for biosignatures in the dried up lake bed at Jezero Crater.


    • Tianwen-1, the first mission to Mars from China, successfully underwent orbital insertion on February 10. Tianwen-1 carries an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. China’s approach for landing a rover is somewhat different. Unlike NASA rovers, Tianwen-1 will orbit Mars for a few months before attempting to land in May this year.




    An Enrolment Module for TECHNOGRAHIS, has been launched by The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).


    • TECHNOGRAHIS are students from IITs, NITs, engineering, planning and architecture colleges, faculty members, academicians, and stakeholders.
    • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is promoting six Light House Projects (LHPs) as Live Laboratories for transfer of technology to the field.
    • The LHPs are model housing projects. About 1,000 houses at each location are being built with allied infrastructure facilities.
    • Interested candidates can register themselves to visit these Live Laboratories at six LHP sites for learning, consultation, generation of ideas and solutions, experimentation, innovation, and technical awareness.
    • Till the completion of the LHPs within a period of 12 months, the ‘Technograhis’ will get regular updates from the sites for information dissemination.



    Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched a Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan under Jal Jeevan Mission- Urban, JJM-U.


    • It will be conducted in cities to ascertain equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies with respect to quantity and quality of water through a challenge process.
    • As a first step, the Ministry has decided to launch the Survekshan in 10 cities- Agra, Badlapur, Bhubaneswar, Churu, Kochi, Madurai, Patiala, Rohtak, Surat and Tumkur.
    • Jal Jeevan Mission Urban is designed to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all 4,378 statutory towns in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal – 6.
    • The total outlay proposed for JJM (U) is 2 lakh 87 thousand crore rupees which includes 10 thousand crore rupees  for continuing financial support to AMRUT Mission.



    The Prime Minister addressed the event organized to commemorate 75 years of Shri Ram Chandra Mission.


    • Sahaj Marg (The Natural Path), a form of Raja Yoga, is a meditation system involving meditation, cleaning, and prayer.
    • The cleaning of impressions (called samskaras) is claimed to be unique to this method.
    • The organizational body Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM), was formally registered in 1945 by Ram Chandra (1899-1983). As part of the Sahaj Marg spiritual practice, Ram Chandra adopted a technique called ‘pranahuti’ as taught by his spiritual master, ‘Lalaji’.



    The President of India inaugurated the Rashtrapati Bhavan Krida Sthal (renovated Football Ground and Basketball Court) in the President’s Estate on February 16, 2021.


    • These state-of-art sports facilities are developed with the aim to cater to the needs of the employees of Rashtrapati Bhavan and their families.
    • An inter-departmental football tournament with five teams namely – President’s Secretariat Heroes, Household Youngs, PBG Warriors, Army Guard Daredevils and Delhi Police Stalwarts also started to encourage the employees and their family members to take part in the sports activities.



    Prime Minister Modi will lay the foundation stone of Dhubri Phulbari Bridge and perform Bhumi Pujan for construction of Majuli Bridge Assam on 18th February 2021.

    Dhubri Phulbari Bridge

    • Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for the four lane bridge over the Brahmaputra between Dhubri (on North Bank) and Phulbari (on South Bank).
    • The proposed Bridge will be located on NH-127B, originating from Srirampur on NH-27 (East-West Corridor), and terminating at Nongstoin on NH-106 in the State of Meghalaya.
    • It will connect Dhubri in Assam to Phulbari, Tura, Rongram and Rongjeng in Meghalaya.

    Majuli Bridge

    • Prime Minister will perform Bhumi Pujan for the two-lane Bridge on the Brahmaputra between Majuli (North Bank) and Jorhat (South Bank).
    • The bridge will be located on NH-715K and will connect Neematighat (on Jorhat side) and Kamalabari (on Majuli side).



    Prime Minister Modi will launch the ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ in Assam on 18th February 2021.


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


    The Union Cabinet has approved signing of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius.

    The salient features of India-Mauritius CECPA are as follows:

    • The India-Mauritius CECPA will be the first trade Agreement to be signed by India with a country in Africa.
    • The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas
    • CECPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.
    • Both sides have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the Signing of the Agreement.



    The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted transit anticipatory bail to Shantanu Shivlal Muluk in the Greta Thunberg toolkit case registered by the Delhi Police in connection with the ongoing protests against the three farm laws.


    • According to Article 22 of the Constitution of India, every person who is “arrested and detained in custody” has to be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours of the arrest — the period excludes the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court.
    • No person can be kept in custody beyond the period of 24 hours without an order of a magistrate. Section 56 of the CrPC states that the person arrested has to be taken before the magistrate without unnecessary delay.
    • When does a person apply for anticipatory transit bail? When a person is apprehending arrest by the police of a state other than where they are at present, they approach the nearest competent court for a transit anticipatory or pre-arrest bail.



    India has announced a National Hydrogen Mission. The proposal in the Budget will be followed up with a mission draft over the next couple of months.


    • And while proposed end-use sectors include steel and chemicals, the major industry that hydrogen has the potential of transforming is transportation — which contributes a third of all greenhouse gas emissions.
    • In October, Delhi became the first Indian city to operate buses running on hydrogen spiked compressed natural gas (H-CNG) in a six-month pilot project.
    • The buses will run on a new technology patented by Indian Oil Corp for producing H-CNG — 18 per cent hydrogen in CNG — directly from natural gas, without resorting to conventional blending.
    • IOC is also planning to set up a dedicated unit to produce hydrogen to run buses at its R&D centre in Faridabad.
    • As a supporting regulatory framework, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways late last year issued a notification proposing amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, to include safety evaluation standards for hydrogen fuel cell-based vehicles.



    The Union Cabinet has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products with a budgetary outlay of Rs. 12,195 crore.


    • The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme intends to promote manufacture of Telecom and Networking Products in India and proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract investments in the target segments of telecom and networking products in order to encourage Make in India.
    • The scheme will also encourage exports of telecom and networking products ‘Made in India’.
    • Support under the Scheme will be provided to companies/entities engaged in manufacturing of specified telecom and networking products in India.
    • Eligibility will be further subject to achievement of a minimum threshold of cumulative incremental investment over a period of four years and incremental sales of manufactured goods net of taxes (as distinct from traded goods) over the Base Year 2019-2020.
    • There will be a minimum investment threshold of Rs.10 crore for MSME with incentives from 7% to 4 % and Rs. 100 crore for others with incentives from 6% to 4 % over 5 year above Base Year.
    • The applicants with higher investments than specified threshold under MSME and Non MSME categories will be selected through transparent process.



    The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to introduce measures for strengthening Child Protection set-up to ensure best interest of children.


    • The amendments include authorizing District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance
    • The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act, to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions.
    • Defining eligibility parameters for appointment of CWC members, and categorizing previously undefined offences as ‘serious offence’ are some of the other aspects of the proposal.
    • Several difficulties faced in implementation of various provisions of the Act have also been addressed.



    Prime Minister will inaugurate the 75 MLD (million litres per day) Water Treatment Plant at Aruvikkara in Kerala.


    • It is being built under the AMRUT Mission.
    • It will boost supply of drinking water to people of Thiruvananthapuram and help avoid disruption of drinking water supply to the city in the event of maintenance work in the existing treatment plants in Aruvikkara.
    • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) was launched in 2015 with the aim of providing basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban transport, parks as to improve the quality of life for all especially the poor and the disadvantaged.



    Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone of the Smart Roads Project in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.


    • The project, to be undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 427 crores, envisages converting 37 Kms of existing roads in Thiruvananthapuram to world class smart roads by bringing all overhead utilities underneath and undertaking road and junction improvements.
    • The project envisages development of urban roads as smart roads. It will have features like pedestrian footpath/safe pathways, junction improvements, storm water drains, utility conduits and underground ducts for electrical, KWA and communication lines.
    • Besides landscaping, street scaping, provision of smart street furniture, creating and developing basic conveniences along the roads are also included under scope of work.



    Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone of the Integrated Command and Control Centre at Thiruvananthapuram, kerala.


    • Projected to be built at a cost of Rs 94 crores, it is being set up to host Smart Solutions for Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation, and will act as a common point of action during emergency situations to facilitate coordinated action.
    • The control rooms or War Room at the ICCC would act as a single point of coordinated action and decision making among various agencies like police, civil supplies, revenue, health and fire fighting.



    Prime Minister will dedicate to the nation the 50 MW Kasaragod Solar Power Project in kerala.


    • It has been developed under the National Solar Energy Mission.
    • Set up over 250 acres of land spread across Paivalike, Meenja and Chippar villages of Kasaragod district, it has been built with Central Government’s investment of around Rs. 280 crores.



    Prime Minister will inaugurate the 320 KV Pugalur (Tamil Nadu) – Thrissur (Kerala) power transmission project.


    • It is a Voltage Source Convertor (VSC) based High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Project and has India’s first HVDC link featuring state-of-the-art VSC technology.
    • Built at a cost of Rs 5070 crores, it will facilitate transfer of 2000 MW power from the western region and help meet the growth in load for the people of Kerala.
    • This VSC based system features integration of HVDC XLPE (cross-linked polyethylene) cable with overhead lines which saves right-of-way as well as has 35-40% less land footprint compared to conventional HVDC system.



    Air pollution claimed approximately 54,000 lives in Delhi in 2020, according to a Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of cost to the economy due to air pollution.


    • Six Indian cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Lucknow — feature in the global analysis.
    • Globally, approximately 1,60,000 deaths have been attributed to PM (particulate matter) 2.5 air pollution in the five most populous cities — Delhi, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo.

    Cost Estimator

    • The ‘Cost Estimator’ is an online tool that estimates the real-time health impact and economic cost from fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) air pollution in major world cities,
    • According to the report, this tool was deployed in a collaboration between Greenpeace Southeast Asia, IQAir and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
    • Using real-time ground-level PM 2.5 measurements collated in IQAir’s database, the algorithm applies scientific risk models in combination with population and public health data to estimate the health and economic costs of air pollution exposure.


    The UK is set to conduct the first COVID-19 human challenge trials (HCT) within a month from now.


    • The UK government is spending £33.6 million for the trials, being conducted jointly by the government’s Vaccines Taskforce, Imperial College London, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and the clinical company called hVIVO. The trial was first announced in October 2020.
    • In this study, over 90 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18-30 will be deliberately exposed to small amounts of the virus in controlled settings, in order to test treatments and vaccines.
    • In this way, the participants are “challenged” by the virus.
    • This is not the same as standard vaccine clinical trials, where the vaccine is given to participants who have acquired the infection naturally.


    Decks are being cleared systematically for the mega listing of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), India’s largest financial institution with assets of over Rs 32 lakh crore.

    What has SEBI done to smoothen the LIC IPO process?

    • Market regulator SEBI has relaxed the norms to make the listing process easier and smooth.
    • Currently, issuers with a post-issue market capitalisation of Rs 4,000 crore are required to offer at least 10 per cent of the post-issue capital to the public and achieve a minimum public holding of 25 per cent within three years.
    • SEBI has now said the issuer with a post-issue market capitalisation needs to make an offer of Rs 10,000 crore and five per cent of the incremental amount beyond the Rs one lakh crore. The size will ultimately depend on the valuation.


    The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution issued separate guidelines for sugar mills and cane commissioners in regards to sale of sugar below the Minimum Selling Price (MSP) of Rs 3,100/- per quintal.


    • To control the constant slide in ex-mill prices of sugar, the central government had in June 2018 specified the concept of MSP for sugar.
    • Back then the MSP was fixed at Rs 2,850/- per quintal which was subsequently raised to Rs 3,100/- per quintal.
    • Along with MSP, the centre had also fixed mill wise sales quota.
    • Mills who breached either of the conditions were liable for action under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 which would include fine as well as a jail term(ranging from 3 months to 7 years) or both.
    • These out of box measures were brought in to arrest the constant slide of sugar and to keep the demand supply ratio to a safe limit.
    • It was reasoned that both these measures would help mills generate enough revenue to pay their farmers the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for cane purchased from farmers


    Delimitation Commission chaired by Retd. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai held a meeting in New Delhi with the Associate Members from Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, for seeking their suggestion on the process of delimitation in respect of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.


    • An overview on the process of delimitation based on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002 was presented before the Members detailing various Sections of these Acts related to the delimitation exercise.
    • Meaning: Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population so that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
    • The main objective of delimitation is: To provide equal representation to equal segments of a population; fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
    • Constitutional provisions: Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
    • Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission. Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002. There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.


    Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar launched Software Applications and instruction manuals with questionnaires for five All India Surveys on Labour.


    • The five All India Surveys are being conducted by Labour Bureau in Chandigarh.
    • These five surveys being undertaken by Labour Bureau are
      • All India Survey on Migrant workers,
      • All India survey on Domestic Workers,
      • All India survey on employment generated by Professionals,
      • All India survey on employment generated in Transport Sector and
      • All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey (to assess the employment situation in establishments with more than 10 workers and also less than 10 workers).
    • Labour Bureau, an attached office of Ministry of Labour& Employment, has been at the forefront in fulfilling the data needs of various stakeholders in the field of labour and employment since 1920.


    The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has received the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award-2020 awarded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


    • WCCB got the award twice in three years. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has been awarded this year under the Innovation category.
    • Earlier, the Bureau had received the award in 2018 under the same category.

    Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB):

    • Parent Agency: Ministry of Environment and Forests.
    • Status: A statutory body constituted under the WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • Mandate: To combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
    • Location: The Bureau has its headquarter in New Delhi and five regional offices at Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Jabalpur.
    • WCCB has developed an online Wildlife Crime Database Management System to get real time data to analyse trends in wildlife crimes across India.
    • This system has been successfully used for carrying out operations such as Operation Save Kurma, Thunderbird, Wildnet, Lesknow, Birbil, Thunderstorm, Lesknow-II etc resulting in huge seizures of Tiger/Leopard Skin/bones, Rhino Horn, Elephant Ivory etc.


    The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi will interact online with students, teachers and parents all over the world during ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha 2021’.


    • Pariksha pe Charcha is a programme in which Prime Minister interacts with the cross section of Students and Teachers from India and abroad to beat exam stress.
    • It is a unique interaction where students, teachers, parents and the Prime Minister will come together to discuss issues related to exams esp. stress-free examination.
    • The First three editions were held at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi in 2018, 2019 and 2020.


    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair the sixth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog on 20th February 2021.


    • The agenda of the meeting includes deliberations on agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, human resource development, service delivery at grassroots level and health & nutrition.
    • The Governing Council presents a platform to discuss inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and federal issues.
    • It comprises the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers of States and Union Territories (UTs), with Legislatures and Lt Governors of other UTs.
    • The sixth meeting will witness the entry of Ladakh for the first time, in addition to the participation of Jammu and Kashmir as a UT. This time, other UTs headed by administrators have also been invited to join.
    • The meeting will also be attended by the ex-officio members of the Governing Council, Union Ministers, Vice Chairman, Members and CEO of NITI Aayog, and other senior officials of Government of India.


    Hyderabad has won a green contest among cities in India, and emerged one of the ‘Tree Cities of the World’.


    • That title has been bestowed by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
    • Hyderabad has been selected for its commitment to growing and maintaining urban forestry under the State government’s Haritha Haram programme and its Urban Forest Parks plan.
    • With the recognition, the city joins 120 others from 23 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.
    • The city was evaluated on five metrics: ‘Establish Responsibility’, ‘Set the Rules’, ‘Know What You Have’, ‘Allocate the Resources’, and ‘Celebrate the Achievements’.


    The shadow of NASA’s Perseverance rover was seen on the surface of Mars as it landed on the planet. With this, NASA is set to become the first space agency to fly a drone in the atmosphere of another planet.


    • Mission Name: Mars 2020
    • Rover Name: Perseverance
    • Main Job: Seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth.
    • Launch: July 30, 2020
    • Landing: 18, 2021
    • Landing Site: Jezero Crater, Mars


    After 15 months, Anand Fernandes, a Mumbai sailor returned home. He was a crew member on the cargo ship Anastasia, which was stranded at a Chinese port due to the coronavirus pandemic.


    • Fernandes started his journey on Anastasia before the pandemic in November 2019 and the ship travelled to the U.S., Netherlands, South Africa, India, China, and Australia.
    • However, the second trip to China resulted in the ship being stranded in Chinese waters as the pandemic scare prevented unloading of Australian coal. China also had new regulations on imports.
    • After the successful negotiations with Chinese officials, the ship was then taken to Japan from where the crew flew to Dubai and then to the respective cities of residence.


    Mon District Administration in collaboration with Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) completed the electrification of Shinnyu village under Mon district in Nagaland using solar power.


    • A total of 60 households, Churches and community hall was electrified using solar power. The entire cost for the project which stood at Rs. 23 Lacs was borne through CSR funding and executed by the GHE.
    • Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) works towards providing clean energy access through solar power to remote communities and has also won the United Nation Global Climate Action Award 2020.
    • Shinnyu was set up in 1977 and recognised by the State government in 2002 but it has virtually remained cut off in the absence of proper road infrastructure. The Power Department tried to electrify the village in 2013-14 but the project was abandoned due to logistical problems.


    Union Minister of Railways, dedicated to the Nation series of Projects for development of Railway Infrastructure in West Bengal.


    • He inaugurated 2nd Foot Over Bridge at Santragachi, Freight Terminal at Sankrail (Phase-I) & Vivekananda Meditation Centre at Howrah and dedicated to the Nation an Executive Lounge at Sealdah station, 2 Escalators at Sealdah station and 2 lifts at Sealdah station.
    • Santragachi station is one of the busiest stations over Howrah-Kharagpur section. It is being developed with all modern amenities.
    • Sankrail Freight Terminal (Phase-I) has been developed with modern facilities for freight rake handling. This Freight Terminal will serve around 40 sq.km. industrial belt spreading over Kolkata and Howrah in West Bengal.
    • Executive Lounge at Sealdah Station is another novel initiative of Railways to provide more comfort for passengers.
    • In order to augment security of passengers & railway property, an Integrated Security System has been commissioned at Barddhaman station.


    Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways launched the “Go Electric” Campaign to spread awareness on the benefits of e-mobility and EV Charging Infrastructure as well as electric cooking in India.


    • Go Electric Campaign is an important initiative that would help in reducing the import dependence of our country in the coming years and would be an important step towards a cleaner and greener future.
    • The campaign is aimed at creating awareness at PAN-India level and is expected to boost the confidence of Electric Vehicle manufacturers.
    • To implement the ‘Go Electric’ campaign at National and State level, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will extend technical support to the State Designated Agencies (SDAs).
    • As a Central Nodal Agency, BEE will provide content and details to State Designated Agencies and other partners to ensure uniformity of information.


    The Union Home Minister attended the ‘Shauryanjali’ programme, organized to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.


    • He also flagged off a cycle rally.
    • Three teams, namely Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Rasbehari Bose and Khudiram Bose, are participating in the rally which will create awareness in different parts of West Bengal about the great sacrifices made by the revolutionaries of Bengal in the freedom movement.

    Rash Behari Bose:

    • Rash Behari Bose (1886 – 1945) was an Indian revolutionary leader against the British Raj.
    • He was born in West Bengal.
    • Following the attempt to assassinate Lord Hardinge on 23 December 1912 in Delhi, Rash Behari was forced to go into hiding.
    • He was one of the key organisers of the Ghadar Mutiny, and later the Indian National Army.
    • Rash Behari Bose handed over Indian National Army to Subhas Chandra Bose.


    Joint User Trials for the helicopter-launched version of the Nag anti-tank guided missile, ‘Helina’, and its Air Force variant ‘Dhruvastra’ have been carried out from Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) platform in desert ranges.


    • Helina, which is the helicopter-launched version of the Nag missile system, is a third-generation, Lock on Before Launch (LOBL) fire and forget class anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system mounted on the ALH.
    • The system has all- weather day and night operational capabilities and can defeat battle tanks with conventional armour as well as explosive reactive armour (ERA). The Helina missile can engage targets both in direct hit mode as well as top attack mode.
    • While the Helina weapon systems has been developed for the Indian Army, its IAF variant Dhruvastra has also been developed by the DRDO and now both variants are ready for induction into services.


    Indian Naval Ship Pralaya arrived at Abu Dhabi, UAE to participate in the NAVDEX 21 (Naval Defence Exhibition) and IDEX 21 (International Defence Exhibition), scheduled from 20 to 25 February 2021.


    • INS Pralaya, the second ship of the indigenously built Prabal Class Missile Vessels, was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 18 December 2002.
    • The 56 m long ship, displacing about 560 T is capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots and is fitted with an impressive array of weapons and sensors.
    • These include a 76.2 mm medium range gun, 30 mm close range guns, chaff launchers and long range surface to surface missiles.
    • The ship was built indigenously at Goa Shipyard Limited.

    TROPEX 21

    Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff presided over the debrief of TROPEX-21 (Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise) at Kochi.


    • The exercise had commenced in January 2021 involving all three Commands of the Indian Navy, the Tri-Services Command at Port Blair, and elements of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard.
    • The Biennial exercise is the largest exercise conducted by Indian Navy aimed to validate its concepts of war-fighting across the entire spectrum of warfare.
    • The exercise was spread over the vast geographical expanse of Indian Ocean and its adjunct waters, with exercise scenarios centred around the extant geopolitical situation in IOR.


    • As a prelude to this Theatre Level exercise, a coastal defence exercise – Sea Vigil was conducted in mid Jan 2021 which witnessed all stakeholder Ministries of Govt of India, State Governments of all coastal states and UTs, the Coast Guard, Port Authorities, shipping and fishing communities, with the Indian Navy as the lead agency.
    • This was followed by an amphibious exercise (AMPHEX- 21) in which Indian naval amphibious ships, units of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force undertook joint exercise in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, with an aim to validate India’s capabilities to safeguard the territorial integrity of its Island territories.


    The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has granted conditional exemption for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) usage to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (MoAFW).


    • The permission allows drone deployment by the MoAFW for remote sensing data collection in agricultural areas of 100 districts of the country, for Gram Panchayat level yield estimation, under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
    • The exemption shall be valid from the one year from the date of issue of the permission letter or until the operationalisation of the Digital Sky Platform, whichever is earlier.
    • However, this exemption shall be valid only if all conditions and limitations are strictly adhered to.
    • In case of violation of any condition, this exemption shall become null & void and action may be initiated as per Para 18 of the above mentioned CAR.


    The sixth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held today under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conferencing.


    • It was attended by 26 Chief Ministers, 3 Lieutenant Governors and 2 Administrators, apart from Union Ministers, who are Ex-Officio Members, and Special Invitees.
    • NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Members and CEO, Principal Secretary to the PM & other senior officers from PMO; Cabinet Secretary; and Chief Secretaries of States/ Union Territories also attended the meeting.



    Ayesha Aziz is emerging as a role model for Kashmir women.


    • Ayesha Aziz became the nation’s youngest pilot when she acquired her student flying licence at the age of 16. At 25 now, she flies GoAir planes.
    • Aziz was given the First Ladies’ Award by the President of India in 2018.



    Vice President of India paid a visit to Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in Hyderabad. He also inaugurated a Paediatric Rare Genetic Disorders Laboratory.


    • The Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) is an autonomous organization funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.
    • Established in 1990.
    • Location: Hyderabad, Telangana.



    The Ahmedabad-Kevadia seaplane returned from the Maldives on February 16 after a two-week maintenance tour at its home country. This was the third major suspension since its launch on October 31, 2020.

    Why does the aircraft fly to Maldives?

    • A thorough maintenance check is part of the operation manual of the seaplane, which is a Twin Otter-300 aircraft. The plane will keep going back to the Maldives — its home country — every time it completes 124 flying hours.
    • This is because the infrastructure to carry out the maintenance is not available in India.
    • Moreover, the maintenance is not just about physical servicing but requires certification at various levels. The flight is registered in the Maldives and the aviation bodies there need to check the flight and certify that it is fit for flying. It is the property of that country.



    The UK Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers were to be considered workers and not freelance contractors, thereby making them eligible for all employment related benefits such as minimum wage, annual leaves, and insurance.


    • With this ruling, Uber and other service providing platforms could also potentially face legal and regulatory challenges in India, as big tech companies from across the globe are under government scrutiny for the differential terms of service and engagement in geographies such as the EU and in locations such as India.
    • The increased focus on big tech aside, the central government has already put in place some legal protection for gig economy workers.
    • The budget for the 2021-22 has already mandated that the law on minimum wages would now apply to workers of all categories including those associated with platforms such as Uber.
    • Such workers would now be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), which mandates employers depositing a certain amount of money with the state insurer, the rest of which is paid by the government.
    • November last year, the central government had come out with specific norms for ride hailing apps such as Uber and Ola.
      • Under the new rules, ride hailing apps could charge a maximum of 20 per cent commission per ride from driver partners, while also capping the total number of working hours per day at 12.
      • The new regulations also provided for the maximum fare that these platforms could charge customers even during high demand peak hours, and that they would have to provide drivers with insurance.



    On February 18, the 12-year-old son of Shabnam, a death row convict from Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha, appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind to “forgive” his mother.


    • The same day, Shabman filed a second mercy petition with the Governor of Uttar Pradesh and the President of India, both of whom have earlier rejected her plea.
    • If executed, Shabnam will be the first woman in independent India to be hanged for a crime.


    Legal options still available with Shabnam

    • These include the right to challenge the rejection of her mercy petition before the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court on various grounds and also the right to file a curative petition in the Supreme Court against the decision on the review petition.”
    • The curative petition can challenge the Supreme Court decision of January 2020, which upheld her death sentence.
    • Also, under the law, if multiple people have been sentenced to death in the same case, they have to be executed together. So, Shabnam and Saleem can be hanged only after both of them exhaust all their legal recourses.



    Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has approached India’s apex drug regulatory body for emergency approval of Sputnik V.


    • This is a vaccine that uses two different human common cold viruses (adenovirus) that have been modified so that the gene causing the cold infection is removed and instead replaced with a code to make SARS-CoV-2’s ‘spike protein’ (the spikes seen on the surface of the virus, which allows it to penetrate the cells and replicate).
    • The human adenoviruses then act as a vehicle to transport this code to the cells when a person is vaccinated, so that the body can develop an immune response in the form of antibodies to protect it in the event the real virus tries to infect.
    • The vaccine, named after the first Soviet space satellite, was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.



    By next year, India could have its own ‘Footwear Sizing System’, which will hopefully remove some of the confusion involved in buying shoes of ‘EU’, ‘UK’ or ‘US’ sizes, especially online.


    • CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) will lead a pan India feet scanning survey, data from which will be used to define Indian footwear size standards – and which will be included by shoe manufacturers in their size charts.
    • The project, which is scheduled to begin later this year and continue for 14 months, is supported by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) of the Union Ministry of Commerce.



    The centenary of Sri Nankana Sahib massacre, which is popularly known as Saka Nankana Sahib, is being marked in an event there on February 21 this year.


    • Nankana Sahib, the birth place of first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev, was also the site of the first big agitation by the SGPC to take back control of gurdwaras from mahants backed by the British.
    • The SGPC came to existence in November 1920, a month after Sikhs removed partial restrictions on Dalit rights inside Golden Temple in Amritsar.
    • It started gurdwara reform movement which was aimed at taking possession of historical Sikh Gurdwaras, which had turned personal property of the priests, who were called mahants. These mahants were also accused of running practices from gurdwaras which were not approved in Sikhism.



    Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare participated in WION and Zee Media’s ‘Population versus Planet’ Conference which is a part of its year-long campaign called ‘Mission Sustainability: Population Vs Planet’.

    Key highlights:

    • World population has witnessed an increase from 1 billion in the year 1800 to 7.8 billion today.
    • Even though India’s population has increased from 36 crore in 1951 to 121.02 crore in 2011, the country has witnessed significant decline in both fertility and mortality;
      • the crude birth rate which was recorded at 40.8 per 1000 in 1951 has declined to 20.0 in 2018;
      • Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 6.0 in 1951 to 2.2 in 2015-16;
      • death rate in India has declined from 7 in 2012 to 6.2 in 2018.
    • Population projection for India and States 2011-2036, released in July 2020, indicates that the Total Fertility Rate is expected to decline from 2.37 during 2011-2015 to 1.73 during 2031-35.
    • The youth population in the age group of 15-24 years is projected to decline from 233 million in 2011 to 227 million in 2036.
    • However, the proportion of the working age population is expected to increase from 61% in 2011 to 65% in 2036. India is adding 12 million people to the working age population each year.



    Chandigarh became the first state or Union Territory in India to launch Carbon Watch, a mobile application to assess the carbon footprint of an individual.


    • Although the app can be accessed by everyone, it has specific options for the residents of Chandigarh to compile a detail study.
    • The application can be downloaded through a QR code in Android supported smart cell phones.
    • As a person downloads the application, they will need to fill details in four parts- Water, Energy, Waste Generation and Transport (Vehicular movement).
    • With the mentioned information, the mobile application will automatically calculate the carbon footprint of the individual. The application will also provide information such as the national and world average of the emission, and the individual’s level of emission generation.
    • The mobile application will suggest methods to reduce the carbon footprints. The application will suggest ways as per the information furnished by the individuals.

    Important Info :

    • Carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases-especially carbon dioxide-released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.



    One of the top Twitter trends over the past few hours has been “#modi_rojgar_do”. The hashtag essentially asks Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide more employment.


    • Just before the Covid crisis at the end of 2019-20 financial year, India had (according to the data provided by Mahesh Vyas of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy) around 403.5 million employed people and around 35 million (or 3.5 crore) openly unemployed people in the country.
    • To this existing pool, each year India adds roughly 10 million (or 1 crore) new job seekers.
    • But over the past year, several million have lost their jobs. As a result, as of January 2021, India had only about 400 million employed.
    • If we look at Vyas/CMIE data, which is being compiled since 2016, the total number of employed people in India has been steadily coming down. It was 407.3 million in 2016-17 and then fell to 405.9 million in 2017-18, and to 400.9 million at the end of 2018-19.
    • India has an labour force participation rate (LFPR) of just about 40%. In other words, in India just 40% of the 20 million joining the working-age group each year actually come forward looking for a job.


    India and Maldives signed agreements on wide range of domains including fish processing, public broadcasting, sustainable urban development, road infrastructure and housing.


    • The agreement in the field of broadcasting is for cooperation between Prasar Bharati and PSM, the official State Media of Maldives. The MoU intends to facilitate collaboration and capacity building in the field of public broadcasting.
    • Dr Jaishankar also handed over one lakh additional doses of COVID vaccine to Mr Shahid and Maldivian Health Minister Ahmed Naseem.
    • India has signed a 50 million dollar Line of Credit agreement in defence sector with the Maldives. The agreement will facilitate capability building in the maritime domain.
    • Dr Jaishankar also co-signed the UTF Harbour Project agreement with Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Didi. He said that the project agreement will strengthen Maldivian Coast Guard capability and facilitate regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts.
    • India also extended a new line of credit of US dollar 40 million for the development of new sports infrastructure in the Maldives.



    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the Annual Report of the Ombudsman Schemes for the year 2019-20.


    • RBI has three Ombudsmen- Banking, Non-Banking Finance Company (i.e. NBFC) and digital transactions. A common man can approach these Ombudsmen for their grievances.
    • As announced in the recent Monetary Policy Statement, the three Ombudsman Schemes are being merged and integrated into a single scheme which will be rolled out starting from June this year.

    Key highlights of the report:

    • There was an increase of around 65 per cent in the receipt of complaints out of which almost 92 per cent have been disposed of.
    • Banking Ombudsman received major complaints regarding ATM & Debit Cards, Mobile & Electronic Banking while NBFC’s Ombudsmen received most complaints about non-observance of regulatory guidelines, lack of transparency in contract/ loan agreement and levy of charges without notice.
    • Digital Transactions Ombudsmen received most complaints about fund transfer. RBI has taken various measures for creating awareness among various stakeholders to minimise the grievances.



    Hearing arguments on the preservation of Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, a Gaekwadi heritage structure, the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice recalled a similar judgment by Allahabad High Court.


    • The Lakshmi Vilas Palace is located in Vadodara, Gujarat.
    • It was constructed by the Gaekwad family, a prominent Maratha family, who ruled the Baroda State. It was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890.
    • Major Charles Mant was credited to be the main architect of the palace.
    • Lakshmi Vilas Palace was styled on the Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture.



    The Assam government announced that the wage of tea garden workers will be increased from Rs 167 to Rs 217 per day. Although the tea garden managements pay the wages, the government fixes it.


    • Moreover, for equal wages of small tea workers, a one-man committee under Principal Secretary Dr JB Ekka will be formed.
    • Coming ahead of the state elections, the announcement is important because the tea tribe community — comprising 17% of the state’s population — is a deciding factor in almost 40 Assam Assembly seats out of the 126.
    • The community is spread over in 800 tea gardens plus several unorganised small gardens of Assam. It is marked by exploitation, economic backwardness, poor health conditions and low literacy rates.
    • Last Sunday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a rally in the state that the party will ensure a Rs 365 per day wage to tea garden workers of Assam if elected to power.

    Important Info :

    • In the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, Rs 1,000 crore was announced for the welfare of tea workers in Assam and West Bengal.



    The Union Minister of Railways dedicated to the Nation various infrastructure development and passenger amenity related works in North Bengal area.


    • 126 Route Kilometer newly electrified section from New Jalpaiguri to New Coochbehar dedicated is part of the Railway electrification work which is going on to achieve 100% electrification of Indian Railways’ network.
    • The Haldibari station bordering Bangladesh has been constructed. PM Modi and PM of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the railway link between Haldibari in India and Chilahati in Bangladesh during the PM level virtual bilateral summit on 17.12.2020.
    • Gangarampur is an important town in the South Dinajpur district of West Bengal. The station here has been converted to a crossing station with provision of High level platform and modern Electronic Interlocking.
    • With an aim to provide better amenities and convenience to passenger, the Alipurduar Jn station has been re-developed to meet the operational requirement.
    • Madarihat station falling in the Dooars section of North Bengal is an important tourist place. The provision of a new Foot Over Bridge in between PF No. 1 & 2 which has been provided.



    The Vice President Venkaiah Naidu celebrated the International Mother Language Day.


    • When: The day is observed on the 21st of February every year to preserve and promote linguistic diversity and promoting mother tongue-based multilingual education.
    • Background: The declaration came up in tribute to the Language Movement done by the Bangladeshis (the then East Pakistanis). In Bangladesh the 21 February is the anniversary of the day when Bangladeshis fought for recognition for the Bangla language.
    • Bodies involved: UNESCO has been celebrating International Mother Language Day since 2000.

    Important Info :

    Need to preserve indigenous languages:

    • At least 43 % of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. According to UN data, a language disappears every two weeks taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.
    • Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain.



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Institute of Medical Sciences and Research at IIT Kharagpur on 23rd February 2021.


    • The super speciality hospital has been set up by the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur with support from the Ministry of Education.
    • The hospital will focus on robust Biomedical, Clinical and Translational Research, development of remote diagnostics, telemedicine, teleradiology along with research in drug design and delivery.
    • The MBBS programme is expected to start from the academic year 2021-22 in addition to Postgraduate and doctoral programmes.



    President Ram Nath Kovind said India’s constitutional values of social justice, freedom, equality and fraternity are in line with Guru Ravidas’s philosophy of life. He said this while addressing ‘Shri Guru Ravidas Vishva Mahapeeth Rashtriya Adhiveshan in New Delhi.


    • He was a Dalit-poet saint from the Bhakti movement era in northern India who probably lived during the 14th to 16th He belonged to a leather-working Chamar community, whose profession involved processing dead animals and their skins.
    • The 41 hymns of Guru Ravidas have been included in the Guru Granth Sahib.
    • The famous saint poetess, Mirabai was a disciple of Guru Ravidas.

    Important Info :

    Key teachings:

    • Everybody is equal in all respects, irrespective of caste, color or a belief in any form of God; Emphasised on universal brotherhood and tolerance.
    • God created man and not man created God;
    • He abandoned saguna (with attributes, image) forms of supreme beings, and focussed on the nirguna (without attributes, abstract) form of supreme beings.


    The IIT Council has set up committees to look at greater autonomy for the elite institutions, in line with the National Education Policy recommendations, as well as reform of the academic Senate, grooming faculty to head the IITs, and innovative funding mechanisms.


    • The Council also recommended cutting IIT staff strength to lower levels.
    • The IIT Council is headed by the Education Minister and includes the directors of all IITs, and the chairs of each IIT’s Board of Governors.
    • It is meant to advise on admission standards, duration of courses, degrees and other academic distinctions, and also lays down policy regarding cadre, methods of recruitment and conditions of service of employees.


    Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that India has become the first country in the world to identify the need for action for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.


    • He said this while launching the operational guidelines for integration of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease with the National Programme for Prevention & Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke.
    • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristic of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells.
    • NAFLD is increasingly common around the world, especially in Western nations.
    • Some individuals with NAFLD can develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver inflammation and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.
    • This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use.


    Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted two successful launches of Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM).


    • The launches were carried out from a static vertical launcher from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.
    • Indigenously designed and developed by DRDO for Indian Navy, VL-SRSAM is meant for neutralizing various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets.
    • The current launches were carried out for demonstration of vertical launch capability as part of its maiden launch campaign.


    In order to find solutions for water related challenges a platform called DIWALI has been developed in which India and Netherlands could participate for designing solution for water challenges.


    • The consortium of experts from the two counties would explore the potential and sustainability of Dutch Solutions to resolve challenges in specific water challenged sites in India which are scalable, sustainable and affordable.
    • It is being led by
      • Dutch consortia titled “Water for Change. Integrative and Fit-for-Purpose Water Sensitive Design Framework for Fast Growing Livable Cities” and
      • IIT Roorkee as lead along with other consortia member named MANIT, Bhopal; CEPT University, Ahmedabad; IIT Gandhinagar; CWRDM, Calicut.


    Pravas Kumar Singh took oath as Member of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).


    • The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) had been established by the Government of India under the provisions of the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998.
    • CERC is the Central Commission for the purposes of the Electricity Act, 2003 which has repealed the ERC Act, 1998.
    • The Commission consists of a Chairperson and four other Members including Chairperson, Central Electricity Authority who is the ex-officio Member of the Commission.
    • Major functions of CERC under the Act are
      • to regulate the tariff of generating companies owned or controlled by the Central Government,
      • to regulate the inter-State transmission of electricity and to determine tariff for such transmission of electricity, etc.
    • Under the Act, CERC shall also advise the Central Government on formulation of National Electricity Policy and Tariff Policy.


    Life Insurance Corporation of India has introduced LIC’s Bima Jyoti a Non-Linked, Non-Participating, Individual, Savings Plan, which offers an attractive combination of protection and savings.


    • This plan provides guaranteed lumpsum payment at maturity and financial support to the family in case of the unfortunate death of the policyholder during policy term.
    • Guaranteed Additions at the rate of Rs.50 per thousand Basic Sum Assured will be added to the policy at the end of each policy year.
    • On death during the policy term after the date of commencement of risk, “Sum Assured on Death” and Accrued Guaranteed Additions as per policy conditions is payable.
    • The Minimum Basic Sum Assured is Rs 1,00,000/- with no upper limit. The Policy can be taken for a term of 15 to 20 years with premium paying term calculated as Policy term minus 5 years.
    • The minimum age at entry is 90 days completed and maximum age at entry is 60 yrs.


    Union Minister for MSME inaugurated 50 artisan – based SFURTI clusters, spread over 18 States.


    • In the 50 clusters inaugurated, over 42,000 artisans have been supported in the traditional segments of muslin, khadi, coir, handicraft, handlooms, wood craft, leather, pottery, carpet weaving, bamboo, agro processing, tea, etc.
    • The Ministry of MSME has funded an amount of around Rs.85 crore for development of these 50 clusters.
    • The Ministry of MSME is implementing a Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) with a view to organize traditional industries and artisans into clusters to make them competitive and increase their income.
    • SFURTI clusters are of two types i.e.,
      • Regular Cluster (500 artisans) with Government assistance of up to Rs.2.5 crore and
      • Major Cluster (more than 500 artisans) with Government assistance up to Rs.5 crore.
    • The artisans are organized into SPVs which can be
      • a Society registered under Societies (Registration) Act, 1860,
      • a Co-operative Society under an appropriate statute,
      • a Producer Company under Section 465 (1) of Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013),
      • a Section 8 Company under the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) or (v) a Trust.


    PM Modi inaugurated important Oil & Gas projects and Engineering Colleges in Assam.


    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation
      • INDMAX Unit at Indian Oil’s Bongaigaon Refinery,
      • Oil India Limited’s Secondary Tank Farm at Madhuban, Dibrugarh and
      • a Gas Compressor Station at Hebeda Village, Makum, Tinsukia.
    • He also
      • inaugurated the Dhemaji Engineering College and
      • laid the foundation stone for Sualkuchi Engineering College in Assam.


    The world-class 3.6 meter optical telescope set up at Devasthal has assumed global importance for observing a number of time-critical cosmic explosive events such as Gamma Ray Bursts and Supernovae.


    • Devasthal is a mountain peak in Uttarakhand.
    • The world-class 3.6 meter optical telescope set up at Devasthal is the Asia’s largest fully steerable optical telescope, an international facility for and people from different parts of the world compete for observation and machine time by submitting research proposals.
    • It was set up in year 2016 by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous research institute of DST with support from Belgian government and established India’s role as a global player in astronomy research.
    • The technological know-how gained from the development of this telescope and back-end instruments are beneficial for optical facilities planned for future such as the Thirty Meter Telescope – one of the mega projects in which the country is participating.



    As part of the ongoing farmers’ protest, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) is celebrating February 23 as ‘Pagri Sambhal Diwas’, where it has asked supporters across the globe to wear a green pagri/dupatta and post their pictures on social media, with the hashtag ‘Go green for farmers’.


    • The farmers are also honouring the memory of Ajit Singh, uncle of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and founder of the Pagri Sambhaal movement of 1907.
    • Pagrhi Sambhaal Jatta was a successful farm agitation that forced the British government to repeal three laws related to agriculture back in 1907. Bhagat Singh’s uncle Ajit Singh was the force behind this agitation, and he wanted to channel people’s anger over the farm laws to topple the colonial government.
    • The three farm-related acts at the centre of the storm in 1907 were the Punjab Land Alienation Act 1900, the Punjab Land Colonisation Act 1906 and the Doab Bari Act.
    • These acts would reduce farmers from owners to contractors of land, and gave the British government the right to take back the allotted land if the farmer even touched a tree in his field without permission.



    Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri launched SmartCode Platform.


    • SmartCode is a platform that enables all ecosystem stakeholders to contribute to a repository of open-source code for various solutions and applications for urban governance.
    • It is designed to address the challenges that urban local bodies (ULBs) face in the development and deployment of digital applications to address urban challenges, by enabling cities to take advantage of existing codes and customising them to suit local needs, rather than having to develop new solutions from scratch.
    • As a repository of open-source software, the source code available on the platform will be free to use without any licensing or subscription fees, thus limiting costs to those involved with customising the code and developing a locally-relevant solution.


    Cadmium (Cd) doped Silver Antimony Telluride (AgSbTe2)

    Scientists have found a new Lead (Pb) free material which can efficiently convert waste heat to power our small home equipment and automobiles.


    • Most efficient thermoelectric materials developed by scientists so far use Lead (Pb) as a major constituent element, restricting their use for mass-market applications.
    • Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, an autonomous institution of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of have now identified a lead-free material called Cadmium (Cd) doped Silver Antimony Telluride (AgSbTe2).
    • This material which can efficiently allow recovery of electricity from ‘waste heat’ marking a paradigm shift in the thermoelectric puzzle.
    • This work is supported by Swarna-Jayanti fellowship and project fund from Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and Department of Science & Technology (DST), India



    Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers presented the 10th National Awards for Technology Innovation in Petrochemicals & Downstream Plastics Processing Industry to the Awardees.


    • In line with the National Policy on Petrochemicals announced in April 2007, the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals (DCPC), Government of India has set up an Award Scheme to incentivize meritorious innovations and inventions in the field of polymeric materials, products, process areas of national and social importance.
    • The ultimate objective is to develop and maintain the petrochemical industry as a globally competitive industry using eco-friendly processes & technologies.
    • Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering and Technology (CIPET), an autonomous organization under DCPC has been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the scheme of the National Awards for Technology Innovation.


    Over the last few days, Trinamool Congress as well as BJP leaders across the West Bengal ahead of the Assembly polls, have been raising the ‘khela hobe’ slogan.


    • The slogan was first used by Bangladesh’s Awami League MP Shamim Osman more than four years ago.
    • But it was popularised in West Bengal by Trinamool Congress president of Birbhum district, Anubrata Mondal, who at a local political event said, “Khela hobe. Bhoyonkor khela hobe. Ei mati te khela hobe.” (The game is on. It will be a dangerous game. But the game is on and this will be the playground.)
    • The slogan, through which leaders are challenging their opponents now, likens the political battlefield to a playground. It means this electoral battle has not been decided yet — there is a lot to fight for in these Assembly polls and only time will tell who has the last laugh.



    In a first of its kind the Union Public Service Commission UPSC has opened a new centre for the Civil Services Examination, in Leh for the candidates from Union Territory Ladakh.


    • Sanctioning of a new centre for Civil Services examination in Leh is a great relief for the aspiring candidates. Leh will be the 73rd centre in the country to hold the preliminary exam for Civil Services on 27th of June this year.
    • Leh Deputy Commissioner will be the Coordinating Supervisor for the Leh centre. At least 800 candidates are expected to attend the civils preliminary exam from the Union Territory Ladakh.



    The 22nd Meeting of the Central Employment Guarantee Council was held on 23.02.2021 under the Chairmanship of Union Minister of Rural Development.


    • The Central Employment Guarantee Council has been constituted under Section 10 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Mahatma Gandhi NREGA), 2005.
    • In this current financial year 2020-21 under the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic, Mahatma Gandhi NREGS has played its critical role in providing wage employment to the wage seekers.
    • A total of 344 crore persondays employment has been generated so far, which is the highest ever persondays generated so far and around 44% higher than that of last year during the same period.
    • 69 crore new job cards were issued this year as compared to usual about 69 lacs in previous years reflecting the succor it provided to the migrant workers going back to their villages.



    NITI Aayog has prepared a draft national migrant labour policy.


    • The draft describes two approaches to policy design:
      • one focussed on cash transfers, special quotas, and reservations;
      • the other which “enhances the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.
    • The policy rejects a handout approach, opting instead for a rights-based framework.
    • The draft asks the Ministries of Panchayati Raj, Rural Development, and Housing and Urban Affairs to use Tribal Affairs migration data to help create migration resource centres in high migration zones.
    • It asks the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to focus on skill-building at these centres.
    • The Ministry of Education should take measures under the Right to Education Act to mainstream migrant children’s education, to map migrant children, and to provide local-language teachers in migrant destinations.
    • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs should address issues of night shelters, short-stay homes, and seasonal accommodation for migrants in cities.
    • The National Legal Services authority (NALSA) and Ministry of Labour should set up grievance handling cells and fast track legal responses for trafficking, minimum wage violations, and workplace abuses and accidents for migrant workers.



    The National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) has been launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs along with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.


    • The National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) will create a shared digital infrastructure for urban India, working across the three pillars of people, process, and platform to provide holistic support to cities and towns.
    • It will institutionalise a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery in 2022 cities by 2022, and across all cities and towns in India by 2024.
    • NUDM has articulated a set of governing principles, and inherits the technology design principles of the National Urban Innovation Stack (NUIS), whose strategy and approach was released by MoHUA in February, 2019.
    • The principles in turn give rise to standards, specifications, and certifications, across the three pillars of people, process, and platforms.



    Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri launched India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX).


    • The India Urban Data Exchange has been developed in partnership between the Smart Cities Mission and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
    • IUDX serves as a seamless interface for data providers and data users, including ULBs, to share, request, and access datasets related to cities, urban governance, and urban service delivery.
    • IUDX is an open-source software platform which facilitates the secure, authenticated, and managed exchange of data amongst various data platforms, 3rd party authenticated and authorised applications, and other sources.



    The Union Cabinet has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Pharmaceuticals over a period of Financial Year 2020-21 to 2028-29.


    • Total incremental sales of Rs.2,94,000 crore and total incremental exports of Rs.1,96,000 crore are estimated during six years from 2022-23 to 2027-28.
    • The Scheme is also expected to bring in investment of Rs.15,000 crore in the pharmaceutical sector.
    • The scheme will be part of the umbrella scheme for the Development of Pharmaceutical Industry.
    • The objective of the scheme is to enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities by increasing investment and production in the sector and contributing to product diversification to high value goods in the pharmaceutical sector.
    • Target Groups: The manufacturers of pharmaceutical goods registered in India will be grouped based on their Global Manufacturing Revenue (GMR) to ensure wider applicability of the scheme across the pharmaceutical industry and at the same time meet the objectives of the scheme.
    • Quantum of Incentive: The total quantum of incentive (inclusive of administrative expenditure) under the scheme is about Rs 15,000 crore.

    Category of Goods:

    The scheme shall cover pharmaceutical goods under three  categories as mentioned below:

    • Category 1: Biopharmaceuticals; Complex generic drugs; Patented drugs or drugs nearing patent expiry; Cell based or gene therapy drugs; Orphan drugs; Special empty capsules like HPMC, Pullulan, enteric etc.; Complex excipients; Phyto-pharmaceuticals: Other drugs as approved.
    • Category 2: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients / Key Starting Materials / Drug Intermediates.
    • Category 3: Drugs not covered under Category 1 and Category 2.


    The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for IT Hardware.


    • The scheme proposes production linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the value chain of IT Hardware.
    • The Scheme shall, extend an incentive of 4% to 2% / 1% on net incremental sales (over base year i.e. 2019-20) of goods manufactured in India and covered under the target segment, to eligible companies, for a period of four (4) years.
    • The scheme is likely to benefit 5 major global players and 10 domestic champions in the field of IT Hardware manufacturing including Laptops, Tablets, All-in-One PCs, and Servers.
    • Financial Implications: The total cost of the proposed scheme is approximately Rs.7,350 crore over 4 years, which includes an incentive outlay of Rs.7,325 crore and administrative charges of Rs.25 crore.


    The Government has lifted the embargo on private sector banks (only a few were permitted earlier) for the conduct of Government-related banking transactions such as taxes and other revenue payment facilities, pension payments, small savings schemes, etc.


    • With the lifting of the embargo, there is now no bar on RBI for authorization of private sector banks (in addition to public sector banks) for Government business, including Government agency business.
    • Government-related banking transactions include taxes and other revenue payments, pension payments, and small savings schemes.
    • In 2012, the finance ministry had not allowed private banks, barring some, to undertake government business for three years.
    • In 2015, the government had continued with the embargo, and allowed the private sector with existing government agency business to continue without any fresh authorisation to private banks.
    • For undertaking government agency business, the RBI pays a commission to banks. The central bank carries out the general banking business of the central and state governments through agency banks appointed under Section 45 of the RBI Act, 1934.


    In granting bail to 22-year-old climate change activist Disha Ravi on Tuesday, the trial court in Delhi rejected the Delhi Police charge that she was part of a “larger conspiracy” to incite violence in the national capital on January 26.


    • Section 120A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) defines criminal conspiracy; Section 120B prescribes the punishment for it.
    • An “agreement” between two or more persons to commit a criminal offence constitutes the offence of criminal conspiracy.
    • Only an agreement is necessary and sufficient to establish the charge of conspiracy, even if the actual criminal offence itself has not been committed. Criminal conspiracy is a substantive offence in itself.
    • The law in its current form was added in 1913, nearly four decades after the IPC was first enacted. The provision was designed by the British to deal with the rising nationalist sentiment in India.


    Earlier this month, Japan appointed a Minister of Loneliness after the country’s suicide rate went up for tHe first time in 11 years.


    • Japan’s suicide rate rose in 2020, with 20,919 people taking their lives according to data by the National Police Agency. Most experts believe that the problem of escalating suicides in Japan is tied to the country’s culture of loneliness.
    • Japan’s ageing population — over 20% of the country’s population is more than 65 years old, which is the highest proportion for that category in the world — has created a huge section of middle-aged and older people who feel they have no one to turn to for help and company.
    • Since most ageing people do not socialise much, many of them die alone, with their bodies being discovered a long time after their death. The phenomenon is known as ‘kodokushi’, which means ‘lonely death’.
    • The country also has some of the longest working hours in the world, which leaves people with little opportunity to spend time with their friends or be engaged in hobbies they are interested in. In fact, Japan has a term for sudden occupational mortality — ‘karoshi’, which means death due to overwork.
    • The culture of self-isolation has spiralled to such extremes in the country that there are about one million people who live in absolute self-imposed confinement for many years with no contact with the outside world. These modern-day hermits are called ‘hikikomori’.


    The debate around court etiquette in India was triggered again on February 23 after a Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde objected to a petitioner addressing judges as “Your Honour”.


    • “When you call us Your Honour, you either have the Supreme Court of United States or the Magistrate in mind. We are neither,” the CJI told the petitioner, a law student.
    • For years, there have been efforts to purge from courtroom protocol salutations such as “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” — a practice inherited from British rule.
    • The Advocates Act of 1961, under section 49(1)(c), empowers the Bar Council of India to make rules on professional and etiquette standards to be observed by advocates.
    • To address this issue, a Resolution by the Bar Council of India in 2006 added Chapter IIIA to Part VI of the BCI Rules.
    • Interestingly, while the 2006 notification discouraged the use of “My Lord” and “Your Lordship”, it prescribed “Your Honour” or “Hon’ble Court” as an acceptable way for addressing the Supreme Court & High Courts, and “Sir” in Subordinate Courts and Tribunals.


    Golfing legend Tiger Woods was involved in a major car accident in Southern California with multiple injuries.


    • Initially it was reported that paramedics used a tool called the ‘jaws of life’ to extricate the athlete from his vehicle. However, they later retracted their statement and clarified that Woods was removed from the wreckage using other tools.
    • While the ‘jaws of life’ were not used for Woods’ rescue, the initial post resulted in a lot of curiosity about the tool.
    • The ‘jaws of life’ are a hydraulic-extrication rescue tool used in a number of difficult emergency situations, particularly car crashes.
    • It is most often used to pull drivers and passengers out of damaged vehicles after severe traffic collisions.
    • The tool, also known as the hydraulic spreader-cutter, was invented by George Hurst in 1961
    • It consists of four main components — cutters, spreaders, rams, and the power source.


    Over 1,000 militants of five militant groups of Karbi Anglong district ceremonially laid down arms at an event in Guwahati in the presence of Assam Chief Minister.


    • The surrendered militants comprised cadres from five outfits — Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT), People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK), Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), Kuki Liberation Front (KLF) and United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA).
    • Insurgency by Karbi — a major ethnic community of Assam — has had a long history in Assam since the late 1980s.
    • These outfits originated from a core demand of forming a separate state.
    • Today, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is an autonomous district council, protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
    • The entire political discourse in this constituency — comprising three districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong (split from the former in 2016) and Dima Hasao — revolves around the demand for
      • granting of “Autonomous State” status to the region and
      • more autonomy and power to the KAAC and the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (which administers over Dima Hasao district).


    In a landmark judgment delivered weeks after China enforced its new civil code, a divorce court in Beijing has ordered a man to compensate his ex-wife for the housework she did during five years of marriage.


    • The court has split their joint property equally, and ordered the man to pay around $7,700 to his former wife as “housework compensation”.
    • On January 1, the Chinese government brought into force a new civil code, which legal experts have described as offering greater protection for individual rights.
    • Before the new law came into force, such compensation could be demanded only in cases where a prenuptial agreement had been signed– in itself an uncommon practice.

    Comment over the ruling

    • Many have commented that 50,000 yuan is too small an amount for five years of household work, and have expressed that men should take up a greater role in managing domestic duties. Others have described the verdict as recognition of unpaid labour at home.


    Motera cricket stadium, the world’s largest cricket stadium, has been renamed from Sardar Patel Stadium to Narendra Modi Stadium.


    • Motera Stadium, is a cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
    • India’s Test against England is the first match at the brand new Motera, the name of the place, after it was refurbished and converted into a 110,000-seater facility, making it the biggest cricket ground in the world in terms of capacity.


    Government has notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.


    • The Rules have been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011.
    • Part- II of these Rules shall be administered by Ministry of Electronics and IT, while Part-III relating to Code of Ethics and procedure and safeguards in relation to digital media shall be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

    Salient features

    • Due diligence must be followed by intermediaries, including social media intermediaries. In case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbour provisions will not apply to them.
    • The Rules make a distinction between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries to encourage innovations and enable growth of new social media intermediaries without subjecting smaller platforms to significant compliance requirement,
    • Significant Social Media Intermediary should appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person and Resident Grievance Officer who shall be a resident in India.
    • Code of Ethics for online news, OTT platforms and digital media: This Code of Ethics prescribe the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities.
    • Self-Classification of Content:
      • The OTT platforms, called as the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
      • Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.



    PM Modi inaugurated and laid foundation stone of various development projects in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.


    • He dedicated to the nation the 1000 MW Neyveli New Thermal Power Project and 709 MW Solar Power Project of NLC India Limited (NLCIL) (formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited).
    • He laid the foundation stone for design, supply, installation and commissioning of a 5MW grid connected ground based solar power plant at V.O.Chidambaranar Port and for the extension, renovation and modernisation of Lower Bhavani Project System.
    • He also laid the foundation stone for development of Integrated Command and Control Centers (ICCC) in nine Smart Cities including Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem, Thanjavur, Vellore, Tiruchirappalli, Tiruppur, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi.
    • He inaugurated the 8-laning of Korampallam Bridge and Rail Over Bridge (ROB) at V.O.Chidambaranar Port and the tenements constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) scheme.



    Now LPG can be transported through Inland Waterways. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) signed an MoU with MOL (Asia Oceania) Pte. Ltd for transportation of LPG through barges on National Waterways-1 and National Waterways-2.


    • The world’s largest gas carrier company, MOL Group will invest for construction and operation of dedicated LPG barges under Make-in-India initiative, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said in a statement.
    • Handling LPG by inland waterways will help reduce the carbon footprints, lowering the overall logistics cost, which in India stands approx. 13 to 14% of GDP, compared to global average of 8% and contributing to Government social schemes like “UJJAWLA” for LPG supply.

    Significance Of Project

    • Currently, 60 per cent of the LPG is moved through road to the various locations with a cost of ₹5-6 per tonne per kilometre, which the oil companies are interested in reducing.
    • At times, strikes by transporters, road blockages also cause delay in transportation.
    • Also, there are some areas which are difficult to approach through rail or road especially in the North-East region where IWT sector may provide usable solutions.



    To showcase the strength and opportunities of the India’s biotechnology sector at national level and to the global community, the second edition of Global Bio-India will be organised from 1-3 March 2021 on digital platform.


    • The theme for this year is “Transforming lives” and tag line “Biosciences to Bioeconomy”
    • Global Bio-India 2021 is expected to have representatives from 50+ countries with Switzerland being the partner country and Karnataka as its state partner
    • Global Bio-India is being co-organised by the Department of Biotechnology along with its Public Sector Undertaking, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in partnership with Invest India.
    • The first edition of Global Bio-India 2019 was organized at New Delhi.



    The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti has announced the selection of the 12 iconic sites under Phase IV of Swachh Iconic Places (SIP).


    • Under Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) initiative of Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G), aim is to transform the iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country as ‘Swachh Tourist Destinations’.
    • The objective of SIP is to achieve a distinctly higher level of Sanitation/Cleanliness at these places, especially on the peripheries and in approach areas.
    • This project is being coordinated by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti in association with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and the concerned State/UT governments.

    The places are:

    1. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
    2. Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
    3. Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan
    4. Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan
    5. Ramdevra, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
    6. Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, Telangana
    7. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
    8. Rock Garden, Chandigarh
    9. Dal Lake, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
    10. Banke Bihari Temple, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
    11. Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
    12. Kalighat Temple, West Bengal



    The City Innovation Exchange (CiX) platform was launched by Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.


    • The City Innovation Exchange (CiX) will connect cities to innovators across the national ecosystem to design innovative solutions for their pressing challenges.
    • Designed on the philosophy of ‘everyone is an innovator’, the platform will bring together Citizen Organisations-Academia- Businesses- Government to co-create for the future of Urban India in a transparent and sustainable manner.
    • The platform will ease the discovery, design& validation of solutions through a robust, transparent and user centric process that will reduce barriers for innovators and cities to discover fitting solutions.
    • The Platform has more than 400 start-ups, 100 smart cities, more than 150 challenges statements and over 215 solutions at the time of launch.



    Union Home Minister Amit Shah attended the consecration ceremony of Mahamrityunjaya temple in Naugaon, Assam.


    • He participated in the consecration ceremony of the world’s tallest 126 feet high Shivling in the Mahamrityunjaya temple.
    • He also visited Borodua pilgrimage, the birthplace of Mahapurush Shrimant Shankardev. He started the new Vaishnav tradition from this holy land and made the Vaishnavite tradition vibrant.
    • The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra also known as the Rudra Mantra or Tryambakam Mantra, is a verse of the Rigveda.
    • The sūkta is addressed to Tryambaka, “The Three-eyed One”, an epithet of Rudra who is identified with Shiva in Shaivism. The verse also recurs in the Yajurveda.



    Union Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) inaugurated the latest technology Integrated Bamboo Treatment Plant in the premises of North East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC) in Byrnihat near Guwahati.


    • The plant is based on vacuum-pressure-impregnation technique and is funded by the National Bamboo Mission (NBM) and North Eastern Council (NEC).
    • This is an initiative of the central government to make India self-reliant in bamboo industry and create employment in this sector.

    Other initiatives in the field of Bamboo

    • The Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir will set up three Bamboo Clusters through collaboration from North East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC). Each of the three clusters will be devoted to the production of Agarbatti, baskets and charcoal respectively.
    • Home grown bamboo is exempt from the purview of the 100 year old Indian Forest Act. This will help in bringing ease of doing business in the bamboo sector for the young entrepreneurs.
    • During the COVID-pandemic, the import duty on Agarbatti coming from other countries has been hiked to nearly 35%. This will discourage import of bamboo made Aggarbatties and encourage domestic production.



    Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate The India Toy Fair 2021 on 27th February.


    • In his Mann ki Baat address in August 2020, the Prime Minister had said that toys not only augment activity, but also give flight to aspirations. He also emphasized boosting toy manufacturing in India.
    • The India Toy Fair 2021 is being organized in line with this vision of the Prime Minister.
    • The Fair will be held from 27th February to 2nd March 2021.
    • It aims to bring together all stakeholders including buyers, sellers, students, teachers, designers etc. on a virtual platform to create sustainable linkages and encourage dialogue for the overall development of the industry.



    Prime Minister Modi will deliver the inaugural address at the 2nd Khelo India National Winter Games on 26th February 2021.


    • The Games will be held from 26th February to 2nd March, 2021.
    • The event has been organised by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, in collaboration with the J&K Sports Council and the Winter Games Association of J&K.
    • The sports activities will include alpine skiing, nordic ski, snowboarding, ski mountaineering, ice hockey, ice skating, ice stock etc.
    • 27 States, Union Territories and Boards are sending their teams to participate in the games.


    Terming Tamil Nadu’s decision to utilise surplus water in the Cauvery basin ‘illegal’, Karnataka would approach the Supreme Court for a legal recourse.


    • The decision follows Tamil Nadu’s move to lay foundation to the Cauvery-Vellaru-Vaigai-Gundar link scheme last Sunday. The link scheme proposes to utilise the surplus water in the Cauvery basin and transfer it to its Southern region.
    • According to Karnataka, It is not right on the part of Tamil Nadu to utilise surplus water before it is allocated. Under the provisions of The Inter State Water Disputes Act, it is illegal and cannot happen without proper allocation.



    The National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has released the Second Advance Estimates of National Income, 2020-21 at Constant (2011-12) and Current Prices.


    • The growth in GDP during 2020-21 is estimated at -8.0 percent as compared to 4.0 percent in 2019-20.
    • GDP at Current Prices in the year 2020-21 is estimated to grow at rate of -3.8 percent.
    • The Per Capita Income in real terms (at 2011-12 Prices) during 2020-21 is estimated to attain a level of ₹ 85,929 as compared to ₹ 94,566 in the year 2019-20, giving a growth of -9.1 percent during 2019-20.
    • The Per Capita Income at current prices during 2020-21 is estimated to be ₹ 127,768, showing a decline of 4.8 percent.
    • Agriculture sector is estimated to see a growth of 3 per cent in 2020-21. However, it will be lower than 4.3 per cent growth recorded in 2019-20.
    • Manufacturing sector is estimated to contract 8.4 per cent during FY21, while electricity is likely to grow at 1.8 per cent. Among services sectors, trade, hotel, transport are projected to contract 18 per cent.


    Railway Minister flagged off Tanakpur (Uttarakhand)-Delhi Junction Special train. The train will connect Tanakpur with the national capital and bring socio-economic development in the region while pilgrims visiting Purnagiri temple will be benefitted with improved connectivity.


    • On the Annapurna range, the temple of Shri Purnagiri organises the Purnagiri Mela in Uttarakhand on Navratri.
    • The temple is situated at a distance of 20 kilometer from Tanakpur, on the right bank of the river Kali in the district of Champawat in Uttarakhand.
    • On the Annapurna range, the temple of Shri Purnagiri organises the Purnagiri Mela in Uttarakhand on Navratri. These ranges offer exceptional scenic beauty. The temple is situated at a distance of 20 kilometer from Tanakpur, on the right bank of the river Kali in the district of Champawat.
    • Purnagiri Devi temple is one of the 108 Siddha Peeths.



    Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs inaugurated the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) Regional Office (South) in Chennai.


    • Status: A statutory body established under the provisions of The Competition Act, 2002.
    • Established in: 2003.
    • Composition: A Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
    • Headquarters: New Delhi.
    • Preceding agency: Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission.
    • Mandate: To implement provisions of The Competition Act, 2002 which –
      • prohibits anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position by enterprises
      • regulates mergers and acquisition (M&A) which can have an adverse effect on competition within India. Thus, deals beyond a certain threshold are required to get clearance from CCI.



    E-Daakhil portal for Consumer grievance redressal is now operational in 15 States/UTs. Department of Consumer Affairs is now proactively following up with the states to launch e-filing portal at their ends.


    • E-filing was launched by National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on 7th September, 2020. Delhi was the first state to implement it on 8th September, 2020.
    • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which has come into force from 20th July, 2020, has provision for e-filing of consumer complaints in the Consumer Commissions and online payment of the fees for filing a complaint.
    • A web application for E-filing of consumer complaints named “edaakhil.nic.in” has been developed by NIC for the purpose.
    • This digital software for filing consumer complaints has the many features like e-Notice, case document download link & VC hearing link, filing written response by opposite party, fling rejoinder by complainant and alerts via SMS/Email.



    Rising yields on government securities or bonds in the United States and India have triggered concern over the negative impact on other asset classes, especially stock markets, and even gold.


    • Bond yield is the return an investor gets on that bond or on a particular government security.
    • The major factors affecting the yield is the monetary policy of the Reserve Bank of India, especially the course of interest rates, the fiscal position of the government and its borrowing programme, global markets, economy, and inflation.
    • A fall in interest rates makes bond prices rise, and bond yields fall — and rising interest rates cause bond prices to fall, and bond yields to rise.
    • In short, a rise in bond yields means interest rates in the monetary system have fallen, and the returns for investors (those who invested in bonds and govt securities) have declined.
    • The yield on 10-year bonds in India moved up from the recent low of 5.76% to 6.20% in line with the rise in US yields, sending jitters through the stock market, where the benchmark Sensex fell 2,300 points last week.



    Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccines under the COVAX program.


    • The COVAX program is led by the vaccine alliance GAVI, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in partnership with UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers and the World Bank, among others.
    • The aim is to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally in what is being called the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
    • The program wants to vaccinate roughly 20 per cent of the population in the 92 Advance Market Commitment (AMC) countries, which include middle and lower-income nations that cannot afford to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. This means countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US $4000 and some other countries which are eligible under the World Bank International Development Association (IDA).



    In the heart of Berlin, a new sacred building is coming up with the aim of bringing Christians, Jews and Muslims to a single place of worship.


    • Called the House of One or, colloquially, Churmosquagogue, it incorporates a church, a mosque and a synagogue.
    • The foundation stone will be laid on May 27 by people of these faiths.
    • A meeting space at the center of the building will be open to people of other faiths and world views as well as the secular urban society.
    • The House of One is coming up on the site of the old St Peter’s Church, which was damaged in World War II and completely demolished by the government of East Germany in 1964.



    The National Board for Wildlife and Union Ministry of Environment included the caracal, a medium-sized wildcat found in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, in the list of critically endangered species.


    • Though not under grave threat in its other habitats, the animal is on the verge of extinction in India, some experts believe. The recovery programme for critically endangered species in India now includes 22 wildlife species.
    • Besides India, the caracal is found in several dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia. While it flourishes in parts of Africa, its numbers in Asia are declining.
    • The wildcat has long legs, a short face, long canine teeth, and distinctive ears — long and pointy, with tufts of black hair at their tips.
    • The iconic ears are what give the animal its name — caracal comes from the Turkish karakulak, meaning ‘black ears’.
    • In India, it is called siya gosh, a Persian name that translates as ‘black Ear’. A Sanskrit fable exists about a small wild cat named deergha-karn or ‘long-eared’.



    Minister of Rural development inaugurated Saras Aajeevika Mela 2021 at Noida Haat.


    • Ministry of Rural Development is working to include more women in Self Help Groups (SHGs). He said these SHGs played a vital role in increasing family income and improving quality of life.
    • The Saras Aajeevika Mela 2021 is being organized from 26th February to 14th March 2021 by the Ministry of Rural Development.
    • More than 300 rural self-help groups and craftsman from 27 states are participating in the Mela.


    The Channapattana toy makers thanked Prime Minister Modi for his support to the Indian toy makers.


    • Channapatana is a city and taluk headquarter in Ramanagara District, Karnataka, India.
    • Channapatana is also called as Channpatna by locals.
    • The city is famous for its wooden toys and lacquerware. Channapatna is also called Town of toys (“Gombegala nagara”).
    • The origin of these toys is dated back to the reign of Tipu Sultan who invited the artisans from Persia in order to train the local artisans in the art of wooden toy making.
    • These toys have been given Geographical Indication tag by Government of India.



    The United Nations Committee for Development Policy (CDP) has recommended graduation of Bangladesh from the category of Least Developed Country (LDC) as it fulfilled the eligibility criteria in terms of per capita income, human assets and economic and environmental vulnerability.


    • This is the second consecutive time since 2018 that the CDP has made recommendation for Bangladesh for graduation from LDC category.
    • The CDP decides on the LDC status of a country based on three criteria-
      • per capita income,
      • human assets index and
      • economic vulnerability index.
    • A country must achieve at least two of the three criteria at two consecutive triennial reviews to be considered for graduation.
    • The proposal will be sent to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for endorsement in June to be finally approved by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September this year.
    • Bangladesh will get time upto 2026 to prepare for the transition to the status of a developing country. Usually countries are given three years for transition but this year due to the Corona pandemic, Bangladesh has been given five years for the process.


    • Graduation from LDC has double edged impact on countries.
    • On the one hand certain preferential provisions in export, provision of subsidy to agriculture and infant industries and access to climate finance are likely to cease after transition from LDC.
    • On the other hand, enhanced confidence of international financial bodies, improved credit rating and higher FDI are expected to benefit Bangladesh after the transition period is completed.



    Shukladhwaja (1510–1571 AD), or more popularly Bir Chilaray, was the younger brother of Nara Narayan, the king of the Kamata Kingdom in present day assam in the 16th century.

    • He was Nara Narayan’s commander-in-chief and got his name Chilarai because, as a general, he executed troop movements that were as fast as a chila (kite/Eagle).



    Global money laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to keep Pakistan on its terrorism financing “grey list”.


    • FATF President Marcus Pleyer said Pakistan must demonstrate in taking action against UN-designated terrorists and their associates. It also said once Pakistan completes three unfulfilled tasks, the FATF will verify and take decision on Islamabad’s present status in June plenary.
    • In its plenary held in October last year, the FATF had kept Pakistan on the grey list citing its failure to fulfill six out of 27 obligations of the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
    • The FATF is an inter-governmental body set up in 1989 to combat money laundering, terror financing and other related threats to the international financial system.
    • Currently, it has 39 members. Pakistan has been on the grey list since June 2018.

    Important Info :

    • The FATF is an inter-governmental body set up in 1989 to combat money laundering, terror financing and other related threats to the international financial system.
    • Currently, it has 39 members. Pakistan has been on the grey list since June 2018.



    The world witnessed the historic landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world.


    • Among the scientists who are part of this historic mission, Indian-American Dr Swati Mohan spearheaded the development of attitude control and the landing system for the rover.
    • Besides that she was the lead systems engineer throughout the development.
    • She is the key communicator between the GN&C subsystem and the rest of the project’s teams.
    • Dr Mohan had emigrated from India to the United States at the age of One. She has worked on Mars-2020 since almost the beginning of the project in 2013 and is currently working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.



    Union Government clarified that no new provision has been made with regard to Blocking of Content in the recently issued Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules.


    • It said that certain misgivings are being raised regarding Rule 16 of the new guidelines which mention that in case of emergency nature, interim blocking directions may be issued by the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
    • In a statement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that the same rule was being exercised by the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology since the past eleven years under the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.
    • Now, under the new rule, this provison will be exercised by the I & B Secretary in place of IT Secretary.



    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Amazonia-1 satellite of Brazil and 18 Co-passenger satellites through PSLVC51 rocket from the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on February 28, 2021.


    • PSLV-C51, which is the 53rd mission of PSLV, will launch Amazonia-1 of Brazil as primary satellite and 18 Co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.
    • PSLV-C51/Amazonia-1 is the first dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under Department of Space. NSIL is undertaking this mission under a commercial arrangement with Spaceflight Inc. USA.
    • Amazonia-1 is the optical earth observation satellite of National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
    • This satellite would further strengthen the existing structure by providing remote sensing data to users for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region and analysis of diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory.
    • The 18 co-passenger satellites include four from IN-SPACe (three UNITYsats from consortium of three Indian academic institutes and One Satish Dhawan Sat from Space Kidz India) and 14 from NSIL.



    National Science Day is being observed on 28th of February.


    • The day is celebrated every year on 28th of February to commemorate the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’.
    • On this day, Physicist CV Raman announced the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’ for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930.
    • The day is aimed at spreading the message of the importance of science and its application in human life.
    • The theme for National Science Day 2021 is ‘Future of Science and Technology and Innovation: Impact on Education Skills and Work’.
    • With a view to promote science and innovation, the government presents the National Science Communication Awards on this day. It was instituted in 1987.



    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted the people on the occasion of Magh Purnima.


    • Maghi Purnima is also known by the name of Magha Purnima.
    • It is known to be a day of the full moon that occurs during the Hindu calendar month of Magh.
    • This day falls during the Gregorian calendar month of January or February.
    • During this time period, the auspicious Kumbh Mela is held every twelve years, and the Magha Mela is held on an annual basis at the confluence of three rivers or Triveni Sangam all around north India, such as in cities like Allahabad or Prayag.



    A distinguished scholar, writer, translator and critic, Professor Velcheru Narayana Rao has been elected honorary fellow of Sahitya Akademi.


    • The election of Narayana Rao has been made based on his contribution to the Telugu literature.
    • His publications include Girls for Sale: Kanyashulkam and A play from Colonial India.

    Do you know?

    • The Sahitya Akademi Fellowship is a literary honour in India bestowed by the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters.
    • It is the highest honour conferred by the Akademi on a living writer, the number of fellows at no time exceeding 21.
    • Elected from among writers thought by the Akademi to be of acknowledged merit, the fellows are sometimes described as the “immortals of Indian literature.”
    • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first writer elected to the Fellowship; Mulk Raj Anand was the first Indian English writer to be inducted in 1989.