February 2020
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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Pakke Tiger ReservePrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pakke Tiger Reserve

Mains level : Not Much


The government in Arunachal Pradesh is planning to build a 692.7 km highway through the 862 sq km Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR). Named the East-West Industrial Corridor, the highway aims to connect Bhairabhunda in West Kameng district and Manmao in Changlang district along Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam.

About Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR)

  • Pakke Tiger Reserve, also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve, is a Project Tiger reserve in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The 862 km2 reserve is protected by the Department of Environment and Forest of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • This Tiger Reserve has won India Biodiversity Award 2016 in the category of ‘Conservation of threatened species’ for its Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme.
  • It falls within the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot.
Global Geological And Climatic Events

Why do we have Leap Years?Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Leap Year and the science behind it

Mains level : Not Much


The year 2020 is a ‘leap year’, meaning the month of February will have 29 days instead of 28, and the total number of days will be 366 instead of 365. This was also the case in 2016, and 2024 will again be a leap year.

Leap Years

  • A calendar is meant to correspond to the Earth’s seasons.
  • For this, the number of days in a calendar needs to match the time required by the Earth to orbit the Sun.
  • The time required by the Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun is approximately 365.242 days. But years are usually only 365 days.
  • To adjust for the extra 0.242 days in the orbital period, which becomes almost one full day in four years, the calendar adds an extra day once every four years.
  • This approximates the time to 365.25 days, which is close to the actual 365.242 days.

But is that not inaccurate?

  • Yes, it is. And further adjustments are made to the Gregorian calendar, the calendar we follow today.
  • The Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582. Before that, the calendar followed was the Julian calendar, introduced in 45 BC.
  • The calendars were different in their treatment of leap years.
  • The Julian calendar had leap days every four years, but since it still did not accurately conform to the Earth’s precise orbit time, it kept falling behind with respect to natural seasons over the centuries.
  • By the 16th century, the Julian calendar had fallen out of tune with the natural seasons by almost 10 days.
  • To correct this discrepancy, Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 decreed that the day of October 4 that year would be followed directly by October 15 – thus covering up the error.
  • The Pope also modified the leap year system in the Julian calendar. That new system came to be known as the Gregorian calendar.

What is the new system?

  • In the Gregorian calendar, a century year (a year ending with 00) is not a leap year, even though it is a multiple of 4. Thus, the year 2100 will not be a leap year.
  • But even this does not provide total accuracy. To ensure that, some century years remain leap years. In the Gregorian calendar, leap years include those century years which are exactly divisible by 400.
  • Thus, 2000 remained a leap year even though it ended with 00.
  • The Gregorian calendar reduces the margin of error under the Julian calendar, thus keeping days more in tune with seasons.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

What did Harappan people eat?Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Harappan food pattern

Mains level : Not Much

The National Museum in New Delhi has hosted “The Indus dining experience” a food event based on the food pattern of Indus valley civilization.

Food of Harappans

  • Archaeological evidence from Indus Valley sites (c. 3300 BC to 1300 BC) in present-day India and Pakistan suggests that a purely vegetarian meal will not provide a complete picture of what the Harappan people ate.
  • To judge from the quantity of bones left behind, animal foods were consumed in abundance: beef, buffalo, mutton, turtles, tortoises, gharials, and river and sea fish.
  • Apart from meat, the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation grew and ate a variety of cereals and pulses.
  • There is archaeological evidence for cultivation of pea (matar), chickpea (chana), pigeon pea (tur/arhar), horse gram (chana dal) and green gram (moong).
  • Several varieties of wheat have been found at Harappan sites, as well as barley of the two-rowed and six-rowed kinds.
  • There is evidence that the Harappans cultivated Italian millet, ragi and amaranth, as well as sorghum and rice.
  • Oilseeds such as sesame, linseed, and mustard were also grown.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Spontaneous RegressionPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Spontaneous healing/regression

Mains level : Not Much

Patients sometimes make ‘miraculous’ recoveries from severe ailments. This is called spontaneous healing or spontaneous regression.

Spontaneous healing/regression

  • A patient improves unexpectedly from a disease that usually progresses, such as cancer, and at times is even cured.
  • Such cases notwithstanding, the medical fraternity is often sceptical and takes “miraculous” recoveries as flukes.
  • A research explores patterns behind healing illnesses such as the deadliest kinds of cancers, and lays out physical and mental principles associated with recovery.
  • These include physically healing diets and immune systems, and mentally healing stress responses and identities.

How does it occur?

  • The research states that much of our physical reality is created in our minds and perception changes our experiences, sometimes to the point of changing our bodies.
  • Therefore it argues that healing our identities may be a key tool to recovery.

Specie in news: ‘World’s largest’ subterranean fishPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Meghalayan caves, and their biodiversity

Mains level : NA


Systematic exploration of the Meghalayan caves has been underway for almost 30 years and hundreds of kilometres of cave passages have been explored and mapped. In a cave in a remote forested area of Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills a research expedition found large specie of a subterranean fish (occurring under the earth’s surface).

About the fish

  • The blind fish was over 40 cm. It has not been named so far.
  • It is nearly five times the mean length (85mm/8.5 cm) for all known subterranean fish to date.
  • The only other species exceeding 300mm (30 cm) in length are eel-like Synbranchidae with nothing like the bulk of the new fish.
  • The 250-known subterranean (occurring under the earth’s surface) fish species around the world measure only around 8.5 cm on average.
  • The specialists say that possibly one (or more) populations of these fish became isolated deeper in the caves and over generations became adapted to the dark, losing their eyes in the process.

Closest resemblance

  • The experts feel that the fish species is very similar to the Golden Mahseer or the Tor Putitora, one of the most famous game fish of the Himalayan rivers.
  • Unique characters that distinguishes it from the Golden Mahseer is the lack of pigmentation, a lack of eyes and of course, its subterranean habitat – being locked in caves.
  • There are ‘normal’ Golden Mahseer in the area too but there is not much surface water (at least in the dry winter months) so fish end up in the cave pools and underground rivers.

Features of Subterranean ecosystems

  • Subterranean ecosystems are considered extreme, high-stress environments characterised by darkness, truncated food webs and food scarcity.
  • Despite this, they harbour exceptional vertebrate and invertebrate taxa (21,000+ species), many of which are evolutionarily unique, and relics of ancient fauna given their long-term isolation.
  • Many cave fish show different adaptations – some don’t have eyes, some have reduced eyes, some don’t have fins, some have weird body shapes.
History- Important places, persons in news

Erstwhile State of RampurPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : State of Rampur

Mains level : Post independence consolidation and reorganization

Erstwhile royals of the state of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh are fighting over the assets and legacy of Nawab Raza Ali Khan, who acceded to the Indian Union at the time of Independence.  The Supreme Court ended India’s longest-running civil dispute last year, and the process of evaluating the inheritance is currently ongoing.

The state of Rampur

  • The state of Rampur was founded by Nawab Ali Muhammad Khan, the adopted son of Sardar Daud Khan, the chief of the Rohillas in Northern India.
  • The Rohillas were Afghans who entered India in the 18th century as the Mughal Empire was in decline, and took control of Rohilkhand, at the time known as Katehr.
  • In 1737, Nawab Muhammad Khan received the territory of Katehr from Emperor Muhammad Shah, only to lose everything to Nawab Wazir of Oudh in 1746.
  • Two years later, he assisted Ahmad Shah Durrani in his conquest of India, recovering all his former possessions.
  • Over the next two centuries the Rampur royals, earlier a warring clan, struck deep roots, and with the blessings of the British, began to build one of the richest principalities in the country.

Patrons of the arts, culture

  • The Rampur royals have played an important role in the socio-cultural history of the Ganga-Yamuna belt.
  • They run the Amir Raza library in Rampur, once known as the official darbar of the Nawab, which is home to some 15,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Turkish, as well as a seventh-century Quran.
  • The library also houses 2,500 specimens of Islamic calligraphy, 5,000 miniature paintings, and 60,000 printed books, besides the extremely rare Persian translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana, which is believed to have been Emperor Aurangzeb’s personal copy.
  • In the 19th century, the royals established courts of law and a standing army, and built irrigation works. In the 20th century, they set up sugar and textile mills.
  • Many Hindus were employed in senior administrative positions in the state. Nawab Raza Ali Khan was known to have written poetry in Bhojpuri for Holi.
  • The Rampur court was also a great patron of the arts, and is known to have patronised Ghalib and Begum Akhtar, as well as the tabla player Ahmad Jan Thirakwa, sarangi player Bundu Khan, sarod player Fida Hussein Khan, been player Wazir Khan, and the kathak dancers Acchan Maharaj and Kalka Prasad.

After Independence

  • Rampur, under Nawab Raza Ali, was the first kingdom to accede to India in 1949, becoming the only Muslim-majority district in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Soon after accession, the Nawab handed over the official royal residence, the Rampur Qila or Fort, built in 1775, to the Indian government, along with several other properties.
  • In return, the Indian government bestowed two key rights to the Nawab — he was granted full ownership of the properties, and guaranteed succession to the gaddi or rulership of the state based on customary law, which gave exclusive property rights to the eldest son.
  • When Raza Ali Khan died in 1966, he had three wives, three sons, and six daughters.
  • His eldest son Murtaza Ali Khan succeeded him as head of the state, as per custom.
  • The government recognised him as the sole inheritor of all his father’s private properties and issued a certificate to this effect. But his brother challenged this in the civil court.
History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Dara ShikohPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dara Shikoh and his legacy

Mains level : Secular trends in Mughal Administration


The Ministry of Culture recently set up a panel of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to locate the grave of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (1615-59) nearby Humayun’s Tomb complex in Delhi.

Dara Shikoh’s legacy

  • The eldest son of Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh was killed after losing the war of succession against his brother Aurangzeb.
  • Dara Shikoh is described as a “liberal Muslim” who tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions.
  • He translated into Persian the Bhagavad Gita as well as 52 Upanishads.

Antithesis to Aurangzeb

  • Some historians argue that if Dara Shikoh had ascended the Mughal throne instead of Aurangzeb, it could have saved thousands of lives lost in religious clashes.
  • Dara Shukoh was the total antithesis of Aurangzeb, in that he was deeply syncretic, warm-hearted and generous — but at the same time, he was also an indifferent administrator and ineffectual in the field of battle.

The remains of Dara Shikoh

  • According to the Shahjahannama, after Aurangzeb defeated Dara Shikoh, he brought the latter to Delhi in chains.
  • His head was cut off and sent to Agra Fort, while his torso was buried in the Humayun’s Tomb complex.
  • Italian traveller Niccolao Manucci gave a graphic description of the day in Travels of Manucci, as he was there as a witness to the whole thing. That is the basis of the thesis.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Supergiant star ‘Betelgeuse’Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Supergiant star ‘Betelgeuse’

Mains level : Big Bang Theory


Using the European Space Organization’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have noticed the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse.


  • It is a red supergiant star (over 20 times bigger than the Sun) in the constellation Orion.
  • Along with the dimming, the star’s shape has been changing as well, as per recent photographs of the star taken using the VISIR instrument on the VLT.
  • Instead of appearing round, the star now appears to be “squashed into an ova”.

Why is it significant?

  • Betelgeuse was born as a supermassive star millions of years ago and has been “dramatically” and “mysteriously” dimming for the last six months.
  • While Betelgeuse’s behaviour is out of the ordinary, it doesn’t mean that an eruption is imminent since astronomers predict the star to blast sometime (supernova explosion, which is the largest explosion to take place in space) in the next 100,000 years or so.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically (SPICe)Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPICe

Mains level : Not Much

The Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) has come out with the format of the new web form — SPICe+ — for the incorporation of companies.


  • The webform — issued as part of the Centre’s Ease of Doing Business initiative — has replaced the existing SPICe form.
  • The web form will help save many procedures, time and cost for starting a business in India.
  • The MCA has also come up with an AGILE PRO form, part of SPICe+, for GSTIN/ EPFO/ ESIC/ Profession Tax/ Bank Account.
  • The MCA also said the RUN service will be applicable only for a change of name of an existing company with effect.

Its components

  • SPICe+ has two parts — Part A for name reservation for new companies and Part B offering a bouquet of services including incorporation, DIN allotment, mandatory issue of PAN, mandatory issue of TAN, mandatory issue of EPFO and ESIC registration and mandatory opening of bank account for the company(through the AGILE PRO linked web form) besides allotment of GSTIN (if applied for).
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Discovery Program investigations by NASAPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various missions mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Discovery Program investigations

NASA announced it has selected four Discovery Program investigations to develop concept studies for possible new missions.

What are the new missions?

  • Two proposals are for trips to Venus, and one each is for Jupiter’s moon Io and Neptune’s moon Triton.
  • After the concept studies are completed in nine months, some missions ultimately may not be chosen to move forward.


  • DAVINCI+ stands for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus.
  • This will analyse Venus’s atmosphere to understand how it was formed and evolved, and if it ever had an ocean.
  • This will advance understanding of the formation of terrestrial planets.


  • Io Volcano Observer is a proposal to explore Jupiter’s moon Io, which is extremely volcanically active.
  • This will try to find out how tidal forces shape planetary bodies.
  • The findings could further knowledge about the formation and evolution of rocky, terrestrial bodies and icy ocean worlds in the Solar System.


This aims to explore Neptune’s icy moon, Triton, so that scientists can understand the development of habitable worlds in the Solar System.


Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy will aim to map Venus’s surface to find out why Venus developed so differently from Earth.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Indian PangolinPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Pangolins

Mains level : Wildlife trade and its prevention


The Madhya Pradesh forest department has radio-tagged an Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) for the first time.


IUCN status: Endangered

  • India is home to two species of pangolin.
  • While the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is found in northeastern India, the Indian Pangolin is distributed in other parts of the country as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • Both these species are protected and are listed under the Schedule I Part I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • Commonly known as ‘scaly anteaters’, the toothless animals are unique, a result of millions of years of evolution.
  • Pangolins evolved scales as a means of protection. When threatened by big carnivores like lions or tigers they usually curl into a ball.
  • The scales defend them against dental attacks from the predators.

Why this radio-tagging?

  • The radio-tagging aims to know its ecology and develop an effective conservation plan for it.
  • The radio-tagging is part of a joint project by the department and non-profit, the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) that also involves the species’ monitoring apart from other activities.

Why protect Pangolins?

  • Pangolins are currently the most trafficked wildlife species in the world.
  • These Scales has now become the main cause of the pangolin’s disappearance.
  • The scales are in high demand in China, where they are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Pangolin meat is also in high demand in China and Southeast Asia.
  • Consequently, pangolins have seen a rapid reduction in population globally. The projected population declines range from 50 per cent to 80 per cent across the genus.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

The ‘Pale Blue Dot’Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pale Blue Dot

Mains level : Voyager 1 mission


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the NASA published a new version of the image of Pale Blue Dot.

Pale Blue Dot

  • The ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is one of the most iconic images in the history of astronomy.
  • It shows Earth as a single bright blue pixel in empty space within a strand of sun rays, some of which are scattering from and enlightening the planet.
  • The original image was taken by the Voyager 1 mission spacecraft on February 14, 1990 when it was just beyond Saturn.
  • At the behest of astronomer Carl Sagan, the cameras were turned towards Earth one final time to capture the image.
  • After this, the cameras and other instruments on the craft were turned off to ensure its longevity.

About Voyager 1

  • Voyager 1 is a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977.
  • Having operated for more than 42 years, the spacecraft still communicates with the Deep Space Network to receive routine commands and to transmit data to Earth.
  • At a distance of 148.67 AU (22.2 billion km) from Earth as of January 19, 2020 it is the most distant man-made object from Earth.
  • The probe’s objectives included flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

The Family Portrait of the Solar System

  • The Pale blue dot image was a part of series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the ‘Family Portrait of the Solar System’.
  • This sequence of camera-pointing commands returned images of six of the solar system’s planets, as well as the Sun.
New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

In news: YaravirusPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Yaravirus

Mains level : NA

In a lake in Brazil, researchers have discovered a virus that they find unusual and intriguing.


  • The Yaravirus infects amoeba and has genes that have not been described before, something that could challenge how DNA viruses are classified.
  • It has a puzzling origin and phylogeny (evolutionary relationship).
  • Because of the Yaravirus’s small size, it was unlike other viruses that infect amoeba and they named it as a tribute to Yara, the “mother of waters” in the mythological stories of the Tupi-Guarani indigenous tribes.
  • The virus does not infect human cells, according to the researchers.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

What is SuperCam?Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SuperCam

Mains level : Study of life on Mars


In its mission to Mars this summer, NASA is sending a new laser-toting robot called SuperCam as one of seven instruments aboard the Mars 2020 rover.


  • Called SuperCam, the robot is used for studying mineralogy and chemistry from up to about 7 metres away.
  • It might help scientists find signs of fossilized microbial life on Mars.
  • SuperCam packs what would typically require several sizable pieces of equipment into something no bigger than a cereal box.
  • It fires a pulsed laser beam out of the rover’s mast to vaporise small portions of rock from a distance, providing information that will be essential to the mission’s success.

NASA lists five things to know

  • From more than 7 m away, SuperCam can fire a laser to study rock targets smaller than a pencil point. That lets the rover study spots it can’t reach with its arm.
  • SuperCam looks at rock textures and chemicals to find those that formed or changed in water on Mars long ago.
  • SuperCam looks at different rock and “soil” types to find ones that could preserve signs of past microbial life on Mars — if any ever existed.
  • For the benefit of future explorers, SuperCam identifies which elements in the Martian dust may be harmful to humans.
  • Scientists can learn about how atmospheric molecules, water ice, and dust absorb or reflect solar radiation. This helps predict Martian weather better.
Agricultural Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Protected Special Agriculture ZonePrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PSAZ

Mains level : PSAZ and its benefits

The Cauvery delta region in Tamil Nadu will be declared as ‘Protected Special Agricultural Zone’ (PSAZ) by the TN govt.

Cauvery delta PSAZ

  • Declaring PSAZ ensures that particular region will not be granted permission for any new projects like those related to hydrocarbons.
  • Only Agro based Industries would be given permission to be built.
  • The special protection will be bestowed on Cauvery Delta districts such as Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagappattinam, Pudukottai, Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Karur and Tiruchirappalli districts.

Significance of the move

  • The Cauvery Delta Region is Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl comprising above eight districts.
  • It is just and reasonable that projects like hydrocarbon exploration have raised concerns among farmers and other agriculture-based labourers.
  • Drilling for extraction of oil and gas in these regions that hampers agriculture and posing much environmental impact or health hazards will be stopped immediately.

Indian nationals living abroadPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Data on Indian's living abroad

Mains level : Indian diaspora in Gulf region

There are over 1.36 crore Indian nationals living abroad, according to data tabled by the Ministry of External Affairs in Lok Sabha.

Indians abroad

  • The highest number of Indians abroad are living in the United Arab Emirates, where the 34,20,000 Indians comprise about one-fourth of all Indians abroad.
  • The UAE is followed by Saudi Arabia (25,94,947), the US (12,80,000), Kuwait (10,29,861), Oman (7,79,351), Qatar (7,56,062), Nepal (5,00,000), UK (3,51,000), Singapore (3,50,000) and Bahrain (3,23,292).
  • The CPV (Consular, Passport and Visa) division of the ministry is the nodal division that coordinates with all missions / posts abroad regarding transportation of the mortal remains of Indians from abroad to their hometowns in India.

Total remittances recieved

  • Citing RBI data, the ministry said that during 2018-2019, $76.4 billion was received as remittances from Indians abroad.
  • During 2019-2020 (April-September), $41.9 billion was received.
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

New rice variety: Muktoshri (IET 21845)Prelims OnlyPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Muktoshri

Mains level : Arsenic poisoning through food, Rice Fortification

Researchers have developed and commercialized a rice variety that is resistant to arsenic.


  • The new rice variety, Muktoshri — also called IET 21845 —, was developed jointly by the Rice Research Station at Chinsurah coming under West Bengal’s Agriculture Department and the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow.
  • A gazette notification for the commercial use of Muktoshri was made by West Bengal last year.
  • During our multilocational trials, it was found that this variety uptakes very less amount of arsenic from soil and water in comparison to other varieties of rice.
  • The rice is long and thin, and aromatic. Across the State, thousands of farmers have started cultivation, even in areas where arsenic in groundwater is not an issue, because of the aroma and the yield.


  • West Bengal is among the States with the highest concentration of arsenic in groundwater, with as many as 83 blocks across seven districts having higher arsenic levels than permissible limits.
  • Several studies have shown that arsenic from groundwater and the soil can enter the food chain through paddy.
  • According to the WHO, long-term exposure to arsenic, mainly through drinking water and food, can lead to poisoning. Skin lesions and skin cancer are the most characteristic effects.
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

What is Fermentophone?Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fermentophone

Mains level : NA


Fermentation, the chemical breakdown of a substance by microorganisms such as bacteria or yeasts, results in some of the most delicious foods and beverages, including cheese, chocolate and wine.  Now, research has shown it can result in music, too.


  • The chemical processes of fermentation can be used to create spontaneous tunes.
  • Researchers has built multiple art exhibits called Fermentophone to showcase how fermentation can make music.
  • First, different fruits and veggies are placed in glass jars and fermented.
  • As the fermentation kicks off, the yeast — or bacteria — present in the food chows down on the foods’ sugars, which results in the release of carbon dioxide bubbles.
  • The release of these bubbles creates a tiny sound, which is picked up by underwater microphones.
  • A computer processes the sounds and, with the help of algorithms plugged in, electronic music is created.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Bangladesh

Agartala-Akhaura Railway LinkPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Agartala-Akhaura Link

Mains level : Railway connectivity in NE states


The landmark Agartala-Akhaura railway line to connect the northeastern region with Bangladesh is expected to be ready by the end of 2021.

About Agartala-Akhaura Link

  • MoU for Indo-Bangla Railway connectivity project viz. Agartala-Akhaura new Broad Gauge line (15.06 Km) was signed on 16.02.2013 between India and Bangladesh.
  • The link will connect Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India and from there to Agartala.
  • The Project was at standstill because of sharp increase in cost of land for the sections in India.
  • The Railway Ministry would bear the cost of laying the 5.46-km track on the Indian side and the cost of the 10.6-km track on the Bangladesh side was being borne by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Indian Army Updates

Sharang Artillery GunPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sharang

Mains level : Modernisation measures of the Indian Army


The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has handed over Sharang, the first 130mm M-46 artillery gun upgraded to 155mm to the Indian Army.

About Sharang

  • Sharang is the 130mm artillery gun ‘up-gunned’ to 155mm, 45 calibre up-gunning based on the Army’s tender.
  • The gun’s range has now gone from 27km to over 36km with the upgrade.
  • It also has more explosive capability and hence and more damage potential.
  • This step will reduce the logistic trail of the Army as it does away with the need to carry 130mm shells and support equipment as the mainstay of the Army’s long range artillery is 155mm guns.

Other artilleries of Indian Army

  • After close to three decades, the Army inducted its first modern artillery guns system in November 2018.
  • These include M-777 Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH) from the U.S. and K9 Vajra-T self-propelled artillery guns from South Korea.
  • The Army has the older, battle-proven Bofors 155mm guns in service. The 155mm Dhanush towed gun system, developed based on the Bofors guns by OFB, is under induction.
  • In October last year, the Army procured and inducted 155mm Excalibur precision guided ammunition from the U.S. which gives its 155mm artillery guns extended range and also the ability to hit targets with very high accuracy.