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Banking Sector Reforms

Specialized Supervisory and Regulatory Cadre (SSRC)Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Specialized Supervisory and Regulatory Cadre (SSRC)

Mains level : Governance of RBI


The RBI has decided to recruit 35% of the specialised supervisory and regulatory cadre from the market while the remaining 65% will be recruited via internal promotions.

Specialized Supervisory and Regulatory Cadre (SSRC)

  • The SSRC will comprise officers in Grade B to Executive Director level.
  • In Nov. last year RBI decided to reorganize its regulation and supervision departments.
  • It merged the three regulatory departments (department of bankingnon-banking and cooperative bank) into one and did likewise for the three supervisory departments.
  • As a result, there is only one supervisory department which looks after supervision of banks, NBFCs and cooperative banks and only one regulatory department for these three.
  • The move is aimed at dealing more effectively with potential systemic risk that could come about due to possible supervisory arbitrage and information asymmetry.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Vyom Mitra: ISRO’s half-humanoidPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vyoma Mitra

Mains level : Various functions of Vyoma Mitra in ISRO's unmanned missions


 

ISRO unveiled its first ‘woman’ astronaut during the event ‘Human Spaceflight and Exploration’.

Vyom Mitra

  • The AI-based robotic system is being developed at a robotics lab at the VSSC in Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Vyom Mitra will be used for an unmanned flight of ISRO’s GSLV III rocket in December 2020, which, along with a second unmanned flight in July 2021.
  • This will serve as the test of ISRO’s preparedness for its maiden manned space mission, Gaganyaan, being targeted for 2022 to mark 75 years of India’s independence.

Functions of the humanoid

  • Vyommitra, equipped with a head, two arms and a torso, is built to mimic crew activity inside the crew module of Gaganyaan.
  • Attaining launch and orbital postures, responding to the environment, generating warnings, replacing carbon dioxide canisters, operating switches, monitoring of the crew module, receiving voice commands, responding via speech (bilingual) are among its functions listed.
  • It will have a human-like face, with lips synchronised for movement to mimic speech.
  • Once it is fully developed, Vyommitra will be able to use equipment on board the spacecraft’s crew module, like safety mechanisms and switches, as well as receive and act on commands sent from ground stations.
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is a Blue Corner notice?Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ‘Blue Corner’ notice

Mains level : Cooperation measures for International policing


Interpol has issued a Blue Corner notice to help locate an infamous fugitive self-styled godman weeks after the Gujarat Police sought the agency’s intervention for this.

 ‘Blue Corner’ notice

  • According to the Interpol website, “Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.”
  • There are seven types of notices — Red Notice, Yellow Notice, Blue Notice, Black Notice, Green Notice, Orange Notice, and Purple Notice.
  • The Blue Notice is issued to “collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.”

Blue notices a/c to CBI

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) website refers to Blue Notices as ‘B Series (Blue) Notices’.
  • It says, “The ‘B’ series notices are also called ‘enquiry notices’ and may be issued in order to have someone’s identity verified; to obtain particulars of a person’s criminal record; to locate someone who is missing or is an identified or unidentified international criminal or is wanted for a violation of ordinary criminal law and whose extradition may be requested.”
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

InvITs and REITsPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : InvITs and REITs

Mains level : Not Much


 

Markets regulator SEBI has put in place a framework for the rights issue of units by listed REIT and InvITs.

What are InvITs and REITs?

Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvIT)

  • An Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvITs) is like a mutual fund, which enables direct investment of small amounts of money from possible individual/institutional investors in infrastructure to earn a small portion of the income as return.
  • InvITs work like mutual funds or real estate investment trusts (REITs) in features.
  • InvITs can be treated as the modified version of REITs designed to suit the specific circumstances of the infrastructure sector.
  • They are similar to REIT but invest in infrastructure projects such as roads or highways which take some time to generate steady cash flows.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

  • A REIT is roughly like a mutual fund that invests in real estate although the similarity doesn’t go much further.
  • The basic deal on REITs is that you own a share of property, and so an appropriate share of the income from it will come to you, after deducting an appropriate share of expenses.
  • Essentially, it’s like a group of people pooling their money together and buying real estate except that it’s on a large scale and is regulated.
  • The obvious pitch for a REIT is that it enables individuals to generate income and capital appreciation with money that is a small fraction of what would be required to buy an entire property.
  • However, the resemblance to either mutual funds or to owning property ends there.
  • According to Indian regulation on REITs, these are meant to primarily own finished and rented out commercial properties –– 80 per cent of the investments must be in such assets. That excludes a real estate that is under development.

Why need InvITs and REITs?

  • Infrastructure and real estate are the two most critical sectors in any developing economy.
  • A well-developed infrastructural set-up propels the overall development of a country.
  • It also facilitates a steady inflow of private and foreign investments, and thereby augments the capital base available for the growth of key sectors in an economy, as well as its own growth, in a sustained manner.
  • Given the importance of these two sectors in the country, and the paucity of public funds available to stimulate their growth, it is imperative that additional channels of financing are put in place.

What did SEBI rule?

  • SEBI said the issuer will have to disclose objects of the issue, related-party transactions, valuation, financial details, review of credit rating and grievance redressal mechanism in the placement document.
  • The SEBI had first notified REITs and InvIT Regulations in 2014, allowing setting up and listing of such trusts which are popular in some advanced markets.
History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Warren Hastings and his Impeachment CasePrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Warren Hastings

Mains level : Read the attached story


Donald Trump’s impeachment trial started in the US Senate. A precedent being discussed is that of the Warren Hastings case — the famous failed attempt by the British Parliament to impeach India’s first governor-general.

Warren Hastings

  • Warren Hastings, the first governor-general of Bengal (and the first de facto Governor-General of India), is considered among the most significant colonial administrators to have ruled India.
  • First as the governor of Bengal (1772-1774) and then as Governor-General (1774-1785), Hastings strengthened British rule in India and made profound changes in administration.
  • Hastings’s conduct while in office was called into question after he returned to Britain in 1785, most prominently by Edmund Burke, the noted British parliamentarian and philosopher.

What was his impeachment case?

  • In 1786, impeachment proceedings were initiated against Hastings, probing his alleged mismanagement, mistreatment of natives, and personal corruption while in India.
  • William Pitt, the then British Prime Minister, first defended Hastings, but then joined the chorus against him.
  • Hastings’s argued that ‘Western’ standards of legality could not be applied in the East.
  • But Burke insisted that under the Law of Nature, people in India were entitled to the same protection as those in Britain.
  • In 1795, however, the House of Lords acquitted Hastings, and the impeachment failed.
  • Burke warned that such a verdict would live in “perpetual infamy”, and the trial gave rise to a wider debate on the role of the East India Company in India.

Back2Basics

Warren Hastings and his major works

From 1772, Warren Hastings served as Governor-General of Fort Williams and the regulating act was passed after his arrival.

Important events under his rule :

 

  • Hastings abolished the Dual System that had been established by Robert Clive. In the Dual System, the company had Diwani rights (rights to collect revenue) and the Nizam or Indian chiefs had the administrative authority.
  • The judicial powers of the Zamindars were abolished. Civil and criminal courts were established. Two appellate courts were established at Calcutta, one for civil (Sadar Diwani Adalat) and one for criminal (Sadar Nizamat Adalat) cases.
  • Hastings abolished the system of dastaks which were misused by company officials and traders earlier.
  • He implemented several reforms in all walks of administration. The Regulating Act 1773 and Pitts India Act, 1784 were important acts passed during his tenure.

 

 

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Corona Virus (Wuhan Virus)Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Coronavirus, Pneumonia

Mains level : Underlying threats and India's preparedness against the virus


 

Chinese scientists have confirmed can spread between human beings.

Corona Virus

  • Corona viruses are large family of viruses, which cause illnesses to people and also circulate in animals including camels, cats and bats.
  • They cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
  • 2019-nCoV is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
  • Much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus, which was first identified in China earlier this month.
  • Not enough is known about 2019-nCoV to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, clinical features of disease, or the extent to which it has spread. The source also remains unknown.

Why is it called the Wuhan Virus?

  • The first cases emerged in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province.
  • On December 31 last year, authorities confirmed that a large number of patients with unexplained pneumonia were admitted in hospitals in the city.

Symptoms of infection

  • According to the WHO, common signs include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Serious infections can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and death.
  • Although human-to-human transmission has now been confirmed, the WHO says animals are the outbreak’s likely primary source. It is not known yet which animals are responsible.
  • To prevent the spread of all respiratory infections, the WHO in general asks people to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, and to frequently wash their hands.
  • Direct contact with farm or wild animals should be avoided — similar outbreaks in the past, like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) emerged from markets where people were in contact with live animals.

Why is there concern around the world?

  • People see a similarity with the SARS outbreak that infected over 8,000 people and killed around 775 in more than 35 countries worldwide in 2002-03.
  • SARS too, was caused by a mystery coronavirus, and started in China.
  • The source of the virus remained unknown for 15 years, until Chinese scientists in 2017 traced it back to a colony of horseshoe bats living in remote cave in Yunnan province.
  • The virus was carried by civet cats which are sold in markets in China.
  • Fears that SARS could reappear and memories of China misleading the rest of the world on the extent and seriousness of the outbreak have not gone away.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

XenobotPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Xenobot

Mains level : Utility of stem cells in bio-robotics


Scientists in the US have created the world’s first “living machines” — tiny robots built from the cells of the African clawed frog that can move around on their own.

Xenobot

  • Scientists have developed living robots from frogs stem cells.
  • They have named this millimetre-wide robots “xenobots” — after the species of aquatic frog found across sub-Saharan Africa from Nigeria and Sudan to South Africa, Xenopus laevis.
  • Scientists have repurposed living cells scraped from frog embryos and assembled them into entirely new life-forms.
  • The xenobots can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient) — and heal themselves after being cut.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Irrawaddy DolphinsPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Irrawaddy Dolphins

Mains level : Not Much


146 Irrawaddy dolphins were recently sighted in Chilika Lake of Odisha. The lake has highest single lagoon population of the aquatic mammal in the world.

Irrawaddy Dolphins

  • IUCN Status: Endangered
  • Scientific Name: Orcaella brevirostris
  • Habitats: Lakes, Rivers, Estuaries, and Coasts

  • The Irrawaddy dolphin is a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.
  • They are also found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers: the Ayeyarwady (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo) and the Mekong.
  • The total population of these aquatic mammals in the world is estimated to be less than 7,500.
  • Of these, more than 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins have been reported from Bangladesh, while the dolphin distribution in Chilika is considered to be the highest single lagoon population.
Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF)Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : TCEPF, TRAI

Mains level : Telecom regulation in India


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has informed that telecom service providers will need to deposit all unclaimed money of consumers, including excess charges and security deposit, in the Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF).

Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF)

  • The TCEPF Regulations, 2007 have been amended to provide the basic framework for depositing unclaimed money of consumers by service providers, maintenance of the TCEPF and other related aspects.
  • Any unclaimed / unrefundable amount belonging to consumers in the TCEP fund will be utilized for the welfare measures of the consumers.
  • With this amendment, service providers will deposit any unclaimed consumer money of any form such as excess charges, security deposit, plan charges of failed activations, or any amount belonging to a consumer, which service providers are unable to refund to consumers.

Why such move?

  • The TRAI observed that there is a need to bring clarity among service providers in depositing money which they are unable to refund to the consumers.
  • While some service providers were depositing money only on account of excess billing revealed in the audit, others were depositing unclaimed money such as security deposits and plan charges of failed activations.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Yada Yada VirusPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Yada Yada

Mains level : NA


A new virus detected in Australian mosquitoes has been provisionally named the Yada Yada virus (YYV).

Yada Yada

  • It is an alphavirus, a group of viruses that the researchers described as small, single-stranded positive-sense RNA viruses.
  • It includes species important to human and animal health, such as Chikungunya virus and Eastern equine encephalitis virus.
  • They are transmitted primarily by mosquitoes and (are) pathogenic in their vertebrate hosts.
  • Unlike some other alphaviruses, Yada Yada does not pose a threat to human beings.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GSAT-30 successfully launchedPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GSAT-30 and its applications

Mains level : Not Much


India’s first satellite of 2020, the GSAT-30 was successfully launched. The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-251 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana.

GSAT-30 

  • GSAT-30 derives  its  heritage  from ISRO’s  earlier INSAT/GSAT  satellite  series  and  will  replace  INSAT-4A  in 
  • In the  days  ahead,  orbit-raising  manoeuvres  will  be  performed  to  place  the satellite  in  Geostationary  Orbit  (36,000  km  above  the  equator)  by  using  its  onboard  propulsion
  • During the  final  stages  of  its  orbit  raising  operations,  the  two  solar  arrays  and  the antenna  reflectors  of  GSAT-30  will  be
  • Following this,  the satellite will be  put in  its final orbital .     The satellite will  be  operational  after  the successful  completion  of  all in-orbit  tests.

Utility of the satellite

  • GSAT-30 will provide  DTH  Television  Services, connectivity to  VSATs for  ATM,  Stock-exchange,  Television unlinking and Teleport  Services,  Digital  Satellite  News  Gathering  (DSNG)  and e-governance applications.
  • The satellite  will  also  be  used  for  bulk  data  transfer  for  a  host  of an emerging  telecommunication
Indian Navy Updates

Exercise ‘Sahyog-Kaijin’Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Exercise ‘Sahyog-Kaijin’

Mains level : NA


Exercise ‘Sahyog-Kaijin’

  • Indian and Japanese coast guards participated in a joint exercise ‘Sahyog-Kaijin’ on January 16.
  • The aim behind ‘Sahyog-Kaijin’ is to strengthen the bond between the two countries.
  • One ship of the Japanese Coast Guard and four ships and an aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard participated in the joint exercise.
  • The drill is a five-day event.
Global Geological And Climatic Events

Eruption of Taal VolcanoPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Taal Volcano

Mains level : Volcanism and its impact


 

In the Philippines, a volcano called Taal on the island of Luzon; 50 km from Manila has recently erupted.

Taal Volcano

  • Taal is classified as a “complex” volcano. Taal has 47 craters and four maars (a broad shallow crater).
  • It is situated at the boundaries of two tectonic plates — the Philippines Sea Plate and the Eurasian plate — it is particularly susceptible to earthquakes and volcanism.
  • A complex volcano, also called a compound volcano, is defined as one that consists of a complex of two or more vents, or a volcano that has an associated volcanic dome, either in its crater or on its flanks.
  • Examples include Vesuvius, besides Taal.
  • The Taal volcano does not rise from the ground as a distinct, singular dome but consists of multiple stratovolcanoes (volcanoes susceptible to explosive eruptions), conical hills and craters of all shapes and sizes.

Threats posed

  • Taal’s closeness to Manila puts lives at stake. Manila is a few tens of kilometres away with a population of over 10 million.
  • The volcano is currently at alert level 4, which means that a “hazardous eruption” could be imminent within a few hours to a few days.
  • Hazardous eruptions are characterised by intense unrest, continuing seismic swarms and low-frequency earthquakes.

Earlier records of eruption

  • Taal has erupted more than 30 times in the last few centuries. Its last eruption was on October 3, 1977.
  • An eruption in 1965 was considered particularly catastrophic, marked by the falling of rock fragments and ashfall.
  • Before that, there was a “very violent” eruption in 1911 from the main crater. The 1911 eruption lasted for three days, while one in 1754 lasted for seven months.
  • Because it is a complex volcano with various features, the kinds of eruption too have been varied. An eruption can send lava flowing through the ground, or cause a threat through ash in the air.
Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD)Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD)

Mains level : Need to curb Road fatalities in India


The government has launched a central accident database management system that will help in analysing causes of road crashes and in devising safety interventions to reduce such accidents in the country.

Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD)

  • The IT tool, known as the IRAD has been developed by the IIT-Madras and will be implemented by the National Informatics Centre.
  • The project costs ₹258 crore and is being supported by the World Bank.
  • The system will be first piloted in the six States with highest fatalities from road crashes — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The IRAD will be improved on the basis of the learnings from the trial, following which it will be rolled out across the country.

How it works

  • The IRAD mobile application will enable police personnel to enter details about a road accident, along with photos and videos, following which a unique ID will be created for the incident.
  • Subsequently, an engineer from the Public Works Department or the local body will receive an alert on his mobile device.
  • He or she will then visit the accident site, examine it, and feed the required details, such as the road design.
  • Data thus collected will be analysed by a team at IIT-M, which will then suggest if corrective measures in road design need to be taken.
  • Road users will also be able to upload data on road accidents on a separate mobile application, which is expected to go live.

Why need such a database?

  • India sees the largest number of road fatalities in the world.
  • More than 1.5 lakh people lost their lives in road crashes in the country in 2018, according to government data.
  • Of the total people killed in road crashes in 2018, 48% were between 18 years and 35 years old, and more than 60% of such fatalities were due to overspeeding.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Artemis MissionPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Artemis Mission

Mains level : Manned mission on Moon


NASA wants to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by the year 2024, which it plans on doing through the Artemis lunar exploration program. An Indian American astronaut named Raja Chari is set to accompany the crew in this mission.

Artemis Mission

  • In 2011, NASA began the ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) mission using a pair of repurposed spacecraft and in 2012 the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft studied the Moon’s gravity.
  • For the program, NASA’s new rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) will send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft a quarter of a million miles away from Earth to the lunar orbit.
  • The astronauts going for the Artemis program will wear newly designed spacesuits, called Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU.
  • These spacesuits feature advanced mobility and communications and interchangeable parts that can be configured for spacewalks in microgravity or on a planetary surface.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Kaziranga National ParkPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Major species found in Kaziranga NP

Mains level : NA


Kaziranga, home of the world’s most one-horned rhinos, has 96 species of wetland birds — one of the highest for wildlife preserves in India.

Kaziranga National Park

  • It is a protected area in the northeast state of Assam.
  • Spread across the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River, its forests, wetlands and grasslands are home to tigers, elephants and the world’s largest population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses.
  • Much of the focus of conservation efforts in Kaziranga are focused on the ‘big four’ species— rhino, elephant, Royal Bengal tiger and Asiatic water buffalo.
  • The 2018 census had yielded 2,413 rhinos and approximately 1,100 elephants.
  • The tiger census of 2014 said Kaziranga had an estimated 103 tigers, the third highest population of the striped cat in India after Jim Corbett National Park (215) in Uttarakhand and Bandipur National Park (120) in Karnataka.
  • Kaziranga is also home to nine of the 14 species of primates found in the Indian subcontinent.
Port Infrastructure and Shipping Industry – Sagarmala Project, SDC, CEZ, etc.

Places in news: Kolkata PortPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kolkata Port

Mains level : Ports in India


PM Modi has renamed the Kolkata Port Trust after Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, at an event to mark its 150th anniversary.

History of Kolkata’s port

  • In the early 16th century, the Portuguese first used the present location of the port to anchor their ships, since they found the upper reaches of the Hooghly river beyond Kolkata, unsafe for navigation.
  • Job Charnock, an employee and administrator of the East India Company, is believed to have founded a trading post at the site in 1690.
  • Since the area was situated on the river with jungle on three sides, it was considered safe from enemy invasion.
  • After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, this port was used to ship lakhs of Indians as ‘indentured labourers’ to far-flung territories throughout the Empire.
  • During World War II, the port was bombed by Japanese forces.

Its administration

  • As Kolkata grew in size and importance, merchants in the city demanded the setting up of a port trust in 1863.
  • The colonial government formed a River Trust in 1866, but it soon failed, and administration was again taken up by the government.
  • Finally, in 1870, the Calcutta Port Act (Act V of 1870) was passed, creating the offices of Calcutta Port Commissioners.
  • In 1869 and 1870, eight jetties were built on the Strand. A wet dock was set up at Khidirpur in 1892. The Khidirpur Dock II was completed in 1902.
  • As cargo traffic at the port grew, so did the requirement of more kerosene, leading to the building of a petroleum wharf at Budge Budge in 1896.
  • In 1925, the Garden Reach jetty was added to accommodate greater cargo traffic. A new dock, named King George’s Dock, was commissioned in 1928 (it was renamed Netaji Subhash Dock in 1973).
  • In 1975, the Commissioners of the port ceased to control it after the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963, came into force.

Significance

  • After Independence, the Kolkata Port lost its preeminent position in cargo traffic to ports at Mumbai, Kandla, Chennai, and Visakhapatnam.
  • The Kolkata port is the only riverine port on R. Hooghly in the country, situated 203 km from the sea.
  • The Farakka Barrage, built in 1975, reduced some of the port’s woes as Ganga waters were diverted into the Bhagirathi-Hooghly system.
History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Swami VivekanandaPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Swami Vivekananda

Mains level : Swami Vivekananda and his philosophy


January 12 is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the famous spiritual leader and intellectual from the late 19th century. In his honour, the government of India in 1984 declared his birthday as National Youth Day.

Swami Vivekananda early life

  • Vivekananda was born in Kolkata on January 12, 1863, as Narendra Nath Datta.
  • From an early age, he nurtured an interest in Western philosophy, history, and theology, and went on to meet the religious leader Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who later became his Guru.
  • He remained devoted to Ramakrishna until the latter’s death in 1886.
  • In 1893, he took the name ‘Vivekananda’ after Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested him to do so, changing from ‘Sachidananda’ that he used before.
  • After Ramakrishna’s death, Vivekananda toured across India, and set after educating the masses about ways to improve their economic condition as well as imparting spiritual knowledge.

The Chicago address

  • Vivekananda is especially remembered around the world for his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
  • The speech covered topics including universal acceptance, tolerance and religion, and got him a standing ovation.
  • He began delivering lectures at various places in the US and UK, and became popular as the ‘messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’.

Return to India

  • After coming back to India, he formed the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 “to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.”
  • In 1899, he established the Belur Math, which became his permanent abode.

His legacy

  • Through his speeches and lectures, Vivekananda worked to disseminate his religious thought.
  • He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
  • ‘Raja Yoga’, ‘Jnana Yoga’, ‘Karma Yoga’ are some of the books he wrote.
  • An important religious reformer in India, Swami Vivekananda is known to have introduced the Hindu philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West.
  • Subhas Chandra Bose had called Vivekananda the “maker of modern India.”
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Chinese paddlefishPrelims OnlySpecies in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IUCN , Red List, Chinese paddlefish

Mains level : IUCN mechanism of listing


One of the largest freshwater species, Chinese paddlefish has been declared extinct.

Chinese paddlefish

  • The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) was an iconic species, measuring up to 7 m in length, dating back from 200 million years ago, and therefore swimming the rivers when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
  • Its ancestral home was the Yangtze River.
  • It was once common in the Yangtze, before overfishing and habitat fragmentation — including dam building — caused its population to dwindle from the 1970s onwards.
  • Between 1981 and 2003, there were just around 210 sightings of the fish. The researchers estimate that it became functionally extinct by 1993, and extinct sometime between 2005-2010.

How did the study determine that it has gone extinct?

  • Chinese researchers made this conclusion based on the Red List criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The Red List has several categories for extinction, or for how endangered a species is.
  • For example, “extinct in the wild” means a species survives only in a captive environment while “locally extinct” means a species has ceased to exist in a particular area but may exist in other areas.
  • Then there is “functionally extinct”, which means the species continues to exist but it has too few members to enable to reproduce meaningfully enough to ensure survival.
  • To be “globally extinct”, it means a species has no surviving member anywhere. Such a conclusion is reached when there is no reasonable doubt left that its last member has died.

How does extinction status matters for conservation?

  • Declaring a species extinct is an elaborate process.
  • It involves a series of exhaustive surveys, which need to be taken at appropriate times, throughout the species’ historic range and over a time-frame that is appropriate to the species’ life cycle and form.
  • When these surveys fail to record the existence of any individuals belonging to that species, a species may be presumed to be extinct.
  • Once declared extinct, a species is not eligible for protective measures and conservation funding; therefore, the declaration has significant consequences.
Antibiotics Resistance

CoronavirusPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Coronavirus, Pneumonia

Mains level : NA


A new virus has been identified by Chinese researchers which is responsible for a new pneumonia-like illness.

Coronavirus

  • Coronaviruses are a specific family of viruses, with some of them causing less-severe damage, such as the common cold, and others causing respiratory and intestinal diseases.
  • A coronavirus has many “regularly arranged” protrusions on its surface, because of which the entire virus particle looks like an emperor’s crown, hence the name “coronavirus”.
  • Apart from human beings, coronaviruses can affect mammals including pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, martens, camels, hedgehogs and some birds.
  • So far, there are four known disease-causing coronaviruses, among which the best known are the SARS coronavirus and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, both of which can cause severe respiratory diseases.