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29 December 2020: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Exam

General Studies-I

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society

Topic: Culture


In News

Researchers have unearthed a thermopolium, Latin for hot drinks counter, in the Roman empire town of Pompeii, today one of the world’s largest and most significant archaeological sites.

  • The snack food counter called the thermopolium at the Pompeii archaeological park’s Regio V was partially excavated in 2019.
  • It was found complete with an image of a Nereid riding a sea-horse, decorative still-life frescoes, food residues, animal bones and victims who died during the volcanic eruption of 79 CE.


  • The find is significant because it shows the variety of food consumed by the residents of the town — traces of pork, fish, snails and beef have been found in the containers of the stall.
  • It is also the first time an entire thermopolium has been excavated, complete with patterns, or bronze drinking bowls, ceramic jars used for cooking stews and soups, wine flasks and amphora, usually used for storing and transporting wine and olive oil.


  • Pompeii was a Roman town in Southern Italy’s Campania region situated along the Bay of Naples.
  • The town was completely buried by volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, over 2000 years ago.
  • Located 8 km from the volcano, Pompeii was as a resort town frequented by Rome’s elite citizens and consisted of villas, cafes, marketplaces and a 20,000-seat arena.


Source: Indian Express


General Studies-II

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations

Topic: Bills & Amendments

2) Assam’s Bill to abolish State-run Madrassas

In News

The Assam government tabled a bill to scrap all state-run madrassas and convert them into general schools with effect from April 1, 2021.

  • Once cleared, the bill will repeal the two existing acts — The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995 and The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.
  • The minister said in the bill that all madrassa institutes will be converted into upper primary, high and higher secondary schools with no change of status, pay, allowances and service conditions of the teaching and non-teaching staff.
  • There are 610 state-run madrassas across Assam.

Reason to convert Madrassas into school

According to the survey conducted by a Guwahati University Professor found that the parents and guardians of most of the students of Madrassas are not aware that the children are not taught regular subjects in Madrassas. Rather they are imparted lessons of theology. Therefore, it is essential to convert the Madrassas into regular schools that provide primary and secondary education.


  • Madrasa is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, secular or religious (of any religion), whether for elementary instruction or higher learning.
  • In countries outside the Arab world, the word usually refers to a specific type of religious school or college for the study of the religion of Islam.
  • The first network of Madrassas was built in Iran, Khorasan and Mesopotamia by Nizam-al-Mulk. The Madrassas mainly teach the holy book of Muslims, The Quran.


Source: First Post


Topic: Awards

3) Digital India Awards 2020

In News

The Bihar government's initiative to transfer financial assistance directly to the accounts of beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic has made its departments winners of the Digital India Awards, instituted by the central government, this year for innovative steps in e-governance.

  • More than 21 lakh stranded workers outside Bihar were provided financial assistance through the "Bihar Sahayata Mobile App".


  • The Chief Minister Secretariat, the Disaster Management Department besides the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the state have jointly been chosen as winners in the "pandemic category" Digital India Awards 2020.
  • The Digital India Awards, instituted under the aegis of the National Portal of India, serve the purpose of bringing to the fore innovative digital solutions and thereby inspiring emulation by all government entities.
  • Earlier the Uttar Pradesh Food and Civil Supplies Department won the Digital India Award, 2020 under the “Excellence in Digital Governance” category. It was selected for its Points of Sale based food distribution, online billing and payment for food grains purchased from farmers, GPS tracking of vehicles transporting food grains.

Digital India Awards

These are presented by President every year. The categories in Digital India Awards are as follows:

  • Innovation in Pandemic
  • Excellence in Digital Governance
  • Open Data Champion
  • Exemplary Product


Source: Live Mint


General Studies-III

Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Topic: Economy

4) National Common Mobility Card

In News

Prime Minister inaugurated fully operational National Common Mobility Card service on the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro, which was started in Ahmedabad last year.

  • The National Common Mobility Card is an inter-operable transport facility that allows users to pay for travel, toll duties, retail shopping, and withdraw money using one card.
  • Under this facility, a person carrying a RuPay- Debit Card that has been issued by 23 banks in the last 18 months, will be able to travel on the Airport Express Line of the Delhi Metro rail network using that card.
  • The National Common Mobility Card facility will be made available on the entire Delhi Metro rail network by the year 2022.
  • The NCMC is an indigenous automatic fare collection system. It will use a phone to avail metro services and to enter or exit metro lines.
  • Apart from Delhi Metro travel on Airport Express Line, the NCMC will also allow passengers or the public to pay for bus services, toll taxes, parking, retail shopping, and even to withdraw money.
  • The NCMC, which was launched with the purpose to provide people with integrated access to all public transports, is also known as ‘One Nation One Card’.
  • The NCMC facility on the Airport Express Line along with the country’s first driverless train on Magenta Line.


Source: Financial Express


Topic: Health & Medicine

5) NMPB Consortia

In News

National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH has launched consortia for medicinal plants.

  • NMPB Consortia will address/deliberate (not limited to) on quality planting material, R&D, cultivation, trade of medicinal plants/market linkage etc.
  • It establishes linkage between the farmers and manufacturers, a ‘Seed to Shelf’ approach is being introduced, wherein, aspects related to Quality Planting Materials (QPM), Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs), Good Post Harvest Practices (GPHPs) would be addressed.

In the first phase, NMPB consortia is proposed for medicinal plant species:

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Pippali (Piper longum)
  • Aonla (Phyllanthus emblica)
  • Guggulu (Commiphora wightii)
  • Satavari (Asparagus racemosus)

Source: Express Pharma


Topic: Health & Safety

6) Pneumonia

In News

Union Health Minister inaugurated India's first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine "Pneumosil", which has been developed by the Serum Institute of India in collaboration with partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • It contains the serotypes 1, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 19A, 19F, and 23F.
  • Pneumonia is effective in the prevention of Pneumonia disease.

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is a pneumococcal vaccine and a conjugate vaccine used to protect infants, young children, and adults against disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).
  • It contains purified capsular polysaccharides of pneumococcal serotypes conjugated to a carrier protein to improve antibody response compared to the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of the conjugate vaccine in routine immunizations given to children.
  • There are three types of PCV available, with the brand names Prevnar 13, Synflorix, and Pneumosil, which was prequalified by the WHO in 2020.
  • The most common side effects in children have decreased appetite, fever (only very common in children aged six weeks to five years), irritability, reactions at the site of injection (reddening or hardening of the skin, swelling, pain or tenderness), somnolence (sleepiness) and poor quality sleep.
  • In adults and the elderly, the most common side effects are decreased appetite, headaches, diarrhea, fever (only very common in adults aged 18 to 29 years), vomiting (only very common in adults aged 18 to 49 years), rash, reactions at the site of injection, limitation of arm movement, arthralgia and myalgia (joint and muscle pain), chills and fatigue.


Pneumonia disease

  • Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.
  • Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:

  • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)
  • Cough, which may produce phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath


Source: Business-Standard


Topic: Environment

7) Wild Sun Rose (Portulaca Laljii)

In News

Scientists have discovered a new species called Portulaca Baljit. It is a wild Sun Rose found in the Eastern Ghats.

Portulaca laljii

  • It 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 luster.
  • Portulaca Baljit has been named to honor the contribution of Lal Ji Singh, an eminent botanist of the Botanical Survey of India.
  • The species has been placed under the ‘Data Deficient’ category of the IUCN List of Threatened Species.

Morphological features

  • These morphological features distinguish the species from other species of the genus Portulaca.
  • The flowers, which are reddish-pink in colour, are very minute, at about 0.5mm.
  • The plant was found growing in rocky crevices at an altitude of about 1,800 meters above mean sea level, very close to the ground, at about less than 10 cm.
  • The plants belonging genus Portulaca are classified in the category Sun Rose because they flower in bright sunshine.
  • The genus was described by Linnaeus in 1753 as a type genus of the flowering plant family Portulacaceae.

How does the plant survive in Rocky conditions?

The Portulaca Rajini survives in rocky surfaces with the help of its tuberous roots and its succulent nature. In general, the plants with thickened parts that are capable of retaining water in arid soil or climate are called succulent plants.

Sun Rose

The Sun Rose plants are also called Rock Rose. There are more than 80 to 100 species of sun rose plants. They are low growing flowering plants. The plants open their flowers during sunshine. These plants are native to the Cape Province of South Africa. However, they are widely used as ornamental plants all over the world.


Source: The Hindu


Topic: Economics

8) 1% of tax in cash

In News

Businesses with a monthly turnover of over Rs 50 lakh will have to mandatorily pay at least 1 percent of their GST liability in cash.

  • The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has notified certain changes to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Rules, bringing in stringent conditions for getting GST registration as well as for businesses to settle tax liability using the input tax credit.


  • The CBIC has introduced Rule 86B in GST Rules, to be applicable from January 1, 2021, which restricts use of input tax credit for discharging GST liability to 99 percent.
  • The registered person shall not use the amount available in electronic credit ledger to discharge his liability towards output tax in excess of 99 percent of tax liability, in cases where the value of taxable supply.
  • These norms are not applicable to taxpayers where the registered person has received a refund amount of more than Rs 1 lakh or if the partner has paid more than Rs 1 lakh as income tax.
  • The new norms will help to identify the risk to revenue and imposes deterrence to the fraudsters in multi-layered fraud of passing fake ITC.


According to CBIC, out of the total GST taxpayer base of 1.2 crores, only 4 lakh taxpayers have a monthly supply value greater than Rs 50 lakhs. Of these 4 lakhs, only 1.5 lakh taxpayers pay less than 1% of their GST liability in cash. When the new rule is applied, the 1% tax payment in cash will apply only to 40,000 to 45,000 taxpayers. This will be 0.37% of the total taxpayers of 1.2 crores.


Source: Business Today