26 December 2020: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Exam
Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
Topic: Important National Day
1)Good Governance Day
Good governance day is celebrated annually on 25 December, the anniversary of the birth of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Good Governance Day was established in 2014.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee (25 December 1924 – 16 August 2018) was an Indian statesman who served three terms as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, followed by a full term from 1999 to 2004.
- He was also noted as a poet and a writer.
- He was a member of the Indian Parliament for over five decades, having been elected ten times to the Lok Sabha, and twice to the Rajya Sabha.
- During his tenure as prime minister, India carried out the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.
- After the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, he sought to restore relations through engagement with President Pervez Musharraf, inviting him to India for a summit at Agra.
- In 2015, he was conferred India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee.
- He died on 16 August 2018 of age-related illness.
Source: News 18
2) Christmas Day
Christmas, is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among peoples around the world.
Christmas Day is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians.
How Did Christmas Start?
Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
Is Christmas Really the Day Jesus Was Born?
- In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday.
- Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth. Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring, Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century.
- By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.
- By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion.
Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations
In line with the objectives of boosting transparency and accountability while ensuring ease of living for the citizens, the Directorate of Estates, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched a new Web Portal and Mobile App, e-Sampada.
- The new application provides a single window for all these services including allotment for over one lakh government residential accommodations, office space allotment to government organisations, booking of 1,176 holiday home rooms and venues like 5, Ashoka Road for social functions etc.
- In its endeavour to provide ‘One Nation, One System’.
- This is a significant step towards promotion of e-governance to boost transparency and accountability in providing various Estate Services like allotment, retention, regularisation, no dues certificate etc.
- E-Sampada will promote ease of living for Government of India officers / Departments as all services can be availed online on a single window with a live tracking of applications.
- The automated processes will minimize human intervention and will lead to greater transparency.
- The new Web Portal and Mobile App have been developed by NIC.
- The portal provides online facility to users across India to lodge complaints, submit documents and appear for virtual hearing. It will reduce administrative cost and will save time and resources by reducing visits to Directorate of Estate.
- E-Sampada Mobile App and Chatbot facility has been provided for better user experience.
Home Secretary and Secretary DoPT, released the progress report of e-HRMS (Electronic-Human Resource Management System).
- e-HRMS was launched by Minister for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on 25th December, 2017 and it had 25 applications of 5 modules of the system.
- Through e-HRMS, government employees are accessing their service-related information and it has digitized HR processes in the Government of India, leading to several benefits for the employees and increasing efficiency.
- With the advanced version of e-HRMS, employees will be able to not only see all their details w.r.t service book, leave, GPF, Salary etc., but also apply for different kind of claims/reimbursements, loan/advances, leave, leave encashment, LTC advances, Tour etc. on a single platform.
- This system has various advantages such as providing dashboard for employee and management, d service records, E-governance in office procedures, reduced file movement, faster service delivery, assistance in decision making, common document repository of employees, Standardization of Master Data, minimize manual entry of data, ease of sharing information among stakeholders, e-Sign for accountability or authenticity, PFMS and e-HRMS integration for faster payment of GPF, advances, loans and reimbursements.
5) Israel’s Nation State Law
The Supreme Court of Israel recently assembled to hear a special petition filed by Arab-Israeli citizens to scrap the Nation State Law.
- The petition asks for a declaration that articles in this law are unconstitutional, specifically those pertaining to Israel’s official language and land allocation laws, which petitioners claim are discriminatory towards non-Jewish citizens.
About Nation State Law
- Informally known as the ‘nation state law’, the ‘Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People’ is one of the 14 Basic Laws or constitutional laws of the State of Israel.
- The law allows Israel to identify itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and promotes Jewish people’s right to self-determination.
- When enacted in 2018, it downgraded Arabic from the status of an official language to one that had special status.
- The law allows development of Jewish settlements in Israel.
- The law defines the symbols of Israel such as state flag, state emblem, state anthem (Hatikvah).
- According to the law, the language of Israel is Hebrew. On the other hand, 20% of the population speak Arabic.
- The law declared Jerusalem as “Whole and United” and capital of Israel. This is contradictory to Israel-Palestine conflict.
Which groups are impacted by this law?
The law discriminates against the Arab minority in the country. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 74.2% of population were declared Jewish, 17.8% were declared Muslim, 2% were declared Christian and 1.6% were declared Druze.
Source: Indian Express
Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
6) Country’s first ‘driverless’ metro
The first ‘driverless’ train will roll out on the 38-km Magenta Line of the Delhi Metro. Prime Minister is scheduled to flag off the country’s first ‘driverless’ metro on December 28.
- The driverless train operation (DTO) or unattended train operation (UTO) modes can be implemented only on Line 7 and Line 8 of the DMRC network which came up under the Phase III expansion.
- These corridors are equipped with an advanced signalling technology which makes the transition possible. For now, DMRC is rolling out the UTO mode on Line 8 only.
- From ATP and ATO, metro will switch to Driverless Train Operation (DTO) mode. In this mode, trains can be controlled entirely from the three command centres of the DMRC, without any human intervention.
- The Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling technology also makes it possible to monitor and troubleshoot every aspect of train operations remotely.
- Manual intervention is required only in cases of hardware replacement.
- Rolling stock controllers will monitor train equipment in real-time, download faults and other events captured by CCTVs and assist traffic controllers in executing commands remotely.
Communication Based Train Control
- Communications-based train control is a railway signaling system that makes use of the telecommunications between the train and track equipment for the traffic management and infrastructure control.
- By means of the CBTC systems, the exact position of a train is known more accurately than with the traditional signaling systems. This results in a more efficient and safe way to manage the railway traffic.
- A CBTC system is a "continuous, automatic train control system utilizing high-resolution train location determination, independent from track circuits; continuous, high-capacity, bidirectional train-to-wayside data communications; and trainborne and wayside processors capable of implementing automatic train protection (ATP) functions, as well as optional automatic train operation (ATO) and automatic train supervision (ATS) functions," as defined in the IEEE 1474 standard.
Source: Indian Express
7) Test Drinking Water Quality
The National Jal Jeevan Mission has launched an innovation challenge in partnership with Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade to develop portable devices for water testing.
The main objective of the exercise is to bring an innovative, modular, and cost-effective solution to develop portable devices that can be used at the household level to test the drinking water quality instantly, easily and accurately.
The aim of the innovation challenge is to ensure that water sources are tested at various locations, at different levels; thereby, helping the policy framers to design programs which address the water contamination issues.
- Water quality testing is one of the priority areas under Jal Jeevan Mission.
- Since announcement of the Jal Jeevan Mission, there has been increase in the tap water supply from 3.23 Crore (17%) in August, 2019 to 6.13 Crore (32%) rural households of the country.
- Every household in 20 districts, 425 blocks, 34 thousand Gram Panchayats and 64 thousand villages of the country now have access to tap water connection.
- People receiving piped water supply in their homes do not have any means to test the potability of water coming from their taps.
- People in urban areas also end up installing household water treatment units incurring additional expenditure.
- Drinking water supply in rural areas is from both from groundwater (80%) and surface water (20%) sources.
- However, due to the depleting groundwater level, especially in arid and semi-arid regions, the use of surface water is on the rise.
- The Uniform Drinking Water Quality Protocol, 2019 has specified some important parameters to be monitored for assuring portability of drinking water as per BIS IS 10500:2012 and subsequent amendments.
Jal Jeevan Mission
- Jal Jeevan Mission is under implementation in partnership with the States to enable every rural home to have tap water connection by 2024.
- The aim of the mission is to provide every rural household potable tap water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality on a regular and long-term basis.
- The National Jal Jeevan Mission invites applicants to join the Innovation Challenge to develop portable devices for water testing and become a part of this life changing Jan Aandolan.
Topic: Government Scheme
8) Jharkhand’s Farm Loan Waiver Scheme
The Jharkhand government in a cabinet meeting decided to waive all agriculture and farm loans up to Rs 50,000, benefiting about 9.07 lakh farmers in the state.
Benefits of Loan Waivers
- Drop in income, rising costs and increasing incidence of indebtedness are increasing farmer suicides especially among small and marginal farmers. The loan waivers will bring in temporary relief.
- According to the All-India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey of NABARD, the major sources of income of farmers are wages and cultivation. The survey says that the monthly income of Agricultural households from cultivation remained almost constant between 2013 and 2017. It was 3081 rupees in 2013 and 3140 rupees in 2017.
- The large agricultural farms usually receive that way was through loan restructuring or one-time settlement. However, the small and marginal farmers are not benefited through these measures. Therefore, it is essential to bring in loan waiver.
Other approvals and their benefits
- The Cabinet also approved replacement of PM Kisan Bima Yojna with the state’s own Fasal Rahat Yojna.
- The Cabinet also approved an amendment to Jharkhand Regional Development Authority under the Urban Development Department.
- It decided that from now on the government will not acquire any land, rather it will have a land pooling policy. The land pooling policy is based on the Telangana model.
- Now in urban areas there won’t be any land acquisition by the government and after land pooling a part of developed land will be returned proportionately to the original owners.
- The Cabinet also gave nod for contracting “able and experienced manufacturer” for supply of Take Home Ration for Anganwadis under Integrated Child Development Scheme.
Source: Indian Express
9) India’s first Lithium refinery
India’s first Lithium refinery which will process Lithium ore to produce battery-grade material will be set up in Gujarat.
- Lithium 'stone' is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal.
- Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
- Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in mineral oil.
- A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles and are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications.
- Manikaran Power Limited, one of the country’s largest power trading and renewable energy company to set up this refinery.
- They are currently exploring a couple of places in Sanand and Dholera to set up this refinery.
- Lithium is a rare element not usually found in India. The company will be importing Lithium ore from Australia and will be processing it here.
- The proposed project is expected to help Gujarat secure the raw material supply for domestic manufacturing of Lithium batteries as it looks to promote electric vehicles.
- India has set an ambitious goal of increasing the Electric Vehicle numbers to 30% by 2030. However, India is importing all the lithium required to make lithium-ion batteries.
- The top Lithium producing countries in the world are Australia, Chile, China, Argentina, Zimbabwe and Portugal.
Source: Indian Express