Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - January 02, 2021 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Namghars

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Context

  • The Union Home Minister distributed financial grants to 8,000 Namghars under the Assam Darshan programme.
  • Namghars are traditional Vaisnavite monasteries of Assam. 

About Namghars

  • Namghars (literally meaning Prayer House) are places for congregational worship associated with the entire Assamese community and the Ekasarana sect of Hinduism, in particular, that is native to Assam.
  • Besides forming the primary structure used for worship, they also function as meeting houses and theatres for dramatic performances (bhaona).
  • The Namghar, also called the kirtanghar, is also the central structure in the Sattras (monasteries of the Ekasarana religion) where the other buildings are positioned around it.
  • Namghars were introduced in Assam by the Vaishnavite saints Damodaradeva, Madhavadeva and Sankaradeva for Assamese people where they can culture and practice naam (devotional songs) and Bhakti of God (devotion).

Source: PIB.

Marathwada Rail Coach Factory, Latur rolls out its first coach shell

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • Notwithstanding Covid-19 related lockdowns and challenges, Indian Railways’ PSU, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) commissioned Marathwada Rail Coach Factory in Latur, Maharashtra on the Good Governance Day with production of the first coach shell.
  • The factory was commissioned only about two years ago.

About the factory

  • Marathwada Rail Coach Factory is going to significantly contribute in overall development of this aspirational region of Maharashtra by heralding a modern industrial ecosystem.
  • This factory has been designed with an initial capacity of manufacturing 250 MEMU / EMU / LHB / train set type advanced coaches per annum.
  • However, its capacity can be enhanced significantly as sufficient vacant space has been marked in the layout plan.
  • The cost of this project amounts to Rs 500 crore plus the land cost of Rs 120 crore.

Source: The Hindu.

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1000-yrs Old Monpa Handmade Paper Industry revived

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Context

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission(KVIC) has revived the 1000 year old Monpa Handmade Paper of Arunachal Pradesh by commissioning a Monpa handmade paper making unit in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The paper unit will also serve as a training center for the local youths to sustain the tradition.

Background

  • It is an heritage hand paper artform of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • This handmade paper is also called as Mon Shugu in the local dialect and is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang.

Highlights

  • The art of making originated among the Monpas over 1000 years ago.
  • Gradually this art became an integral part of local custom and culture of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Monpas paper used to be sold to countries like Tibet, Bhutan ,Thailand and Japan as no paper making industry existed in these countries at that time.
  • However, the local industry gradually began declining and the indigenous handmade paper was taken over by inferior Chinese paper.
  • The fine-textured Monpa handmade paper will be made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng, which has medicinal values too. Hence availability of raw material will not be a problem.
  • The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries.

Source: Indian Express.

USAs Plan To Have Nuclear Reactor On Moon

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


Context

  • The USA's plans to build the first nuclear reactor on the moon by the end of 2026, a new directive recently issued by the White House.
  • The President of the United States issued the "National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion."
  • The US Department of Energy, in cooperation with the NASA, also plans to solicit industry design suggestions for the same purpose in early 2021.

Background

According to the instructions, NASA is required to launch the fission surface power for lunar surface demonstration by 2027 with scalability to a power range of 40 kilowatt-electric and higher to support a sustained lunar presence and exploration of Mars.

Highlights

  • NASA’s goal is to build a flight hardware system that is ready to be integrated with the lunar lander by the end of 2026.
  • Fission power systems (called nuclear reactors) will benefit future robotic and human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars.
  • Providing a safe, efficient, and readily available power source is essential for these missions, and fission surface power systems can meet these requirements.
  • The fission surface power system will be manufactured and assembled entirely on Earth and integrated on the lander as a payload.
  • The system consists of four main subsystems: nuclear reactors, an electric power conversion units, cooling arrays, and power management and distribution subsystems.
  • It will be designed to operate for up to 10 years.

Source: Times of India.

Governor’s role in calling an Assembly session

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures - structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


Context

  • In yet another tug-of-war between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Governor has turned down a request to summon a special sitting of the Assembly to debate the new three central farm laws.
  • The episode raises questions on the role of a Governor and the contours of the powers he or she has under the Constitution.

Background

  • The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fits--says Article 174 of the Constitution.
  • The provision also puts on the Governor the responsibility of ensuring that the House is summoned at least once every six months.

Highlights

  • Although it is the Governor’s prerogative to summon the House, according to Article 163, the Governor is required to act on the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet.
  • So when the Governor summons the House under Article 174, this is not of his or her own will but on the aid and advice of the Cabinet.
  • There are a few instances where the Governor can summon the House despite the refusal of the Chief Minister who heads the Cabinet.
  • When the Chief Minister appears to have lost the majority andthe legislative members of the House propose a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister, then the Governor can decide on his or her own on summoning the House. But the actions of the Governor, when using his discretionary powers can be challenged in court.
  • A number of rulings by the Supreme Court has settled the position that the Governor cannot refuse the request of a Cabinet that enjoys majority in the House unless it is patently unconstitutional.
  • The landmark 2016 Constitution Bench ruling in which the Supreme Court looked into the constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh after the Governor had imposed President’s Rule in the state.
  • In ordinary circumstances during the period when the Chief Minister and his council of ministers enjoy the confidence of the majority of the House, the power vested with the Governor under Article 174 to summon, prorogue and dissolve the house(s) must be exercised in consonance with the aid and advice of the chief minister and his council of ministers.

Source: Indian Express.

Giant Antarctic iceberg A68a

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • A68a, the giant Antarctic iceberg has become a cause for concern for South Georgia Island.
  • The giant iceberg A68, the biggest block of free-floating ice from Antarctica with an area of about 5,800 sq. Km.

Background

  • Since 2017, it has been drifting in the Atlantic Ocean. Due to an ocean current, this year the iceberg was propelled into the South Atlantic Ocean and since then it has been drifting towards the remote sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia.
  • It is a British Overseas Territory (BOT). 
  • This has prompted fears about the impact the iceberg could have on the island’s abundant wildlife.

Highlights

  • An iceberg A68a is a roughly size of the state of Delaware, split off from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017.
  • Since then it has been drifting towards the remote island of South Georgia, which is a British Overseas Territory (BOT).
  • The US National Ice Center (USNIC) recently, confirmed that two new icebergs calved from A68a and were large enough to be named and tracked.
  • They are called A68E and A68F.
  • As per BAS, the iceberg’s calving is thought to be a natural event and not a result of climate change. However, some models predict that a warming Antarctica in the future could mean more calving events as ice shelves and glaciers retreat.

Source: Indian Express.

Zero Coupon Bonds

Focus: GS3.                                

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The government has used financial innovation to recapitalise Punjab & Sind Bank by issuing the lender Rs 5,500-crore worth of non-interest bearing bonds valued at par.
  • Though these will earn no interestfor the subscriber, market participants term it both a ‘financial illusion’ and ‘great innovation’ by the government where it is using Rs 100 to create an impact of Rs 200 in the economy.

Background

  • A zero-coupon bond is a debt securitythat does not pay interest but instead trades at a deep discount, rendering a profit at maturity, when the bond is redeemed for its full face value.
  • Some bonds are issued as zero-coupon instruments from the start.

Highlights

  • The funds raised through issuance of these instruments, which are a variation of the recapitalisation bondsissued earlier to public sector banks, are being deployed to capitalise the state-run bank.
  • Zero-coupon bonds trade at deep discounts, offering full face value (par) profits at maturity.
  • The difference between the purchase price of a zero-coupon bond and the par value, indicates the investor’s return.

Source: AIR News.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Portulaca Lalji:
  • The new species, named Portulaca laljii, discovered from Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh has unique features such as a tuberous root, no hair in its leaf axils, a reddish pink flower, prolate-shaped fruits, and copper brown seeds without lustre.
  • The flowers are very attractive and bloom for months from June to February.
  • The plant bears beautiful, tiny pink flowers for eight months. It is because of the succulent nature of tuberous roots that the plant can survive on rocky crevices.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

     A. 1 and 2 only
     B. 2 and 3 only
     C. 1 and 3 only
     D. AOTA

Solution: D

  1. R P Tiwari panel is related to:

     A. Common Entrance test at UG level
     B. Common Entrance test at PG level
     C. Relax online teaching hours for students
     D. Lockdown guidelines

Solution: A

 

 

 

 

 

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