Terms in News

  1. AGNI-P – It is a new generation advanced variant of Agni class of missiles. It is a canisterised missile with range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 km. Canisterisation of missiles reduces the time required to launch the missile while improving its storage and mobility. Agni-P has improved parameters including manoeuvring and accuracy. Agni missiles are long range, nuclear weapons capable surface to surface ballistic missile. The longest of the Agni series, Agni-V, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km, has already been tested several times and validated for induction.
  2. GLOBAL MINIMUM TAXThis proposal requires all countries to impose at least a minimum tax of 15 percent on global companies. It would re-allocate some taxing rights over Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) from their home countries to the markets where they have business activities and earn profits, regardless of whether firms have a physical presence there. The proceeds of such taxes would be shared between MNEs home country and the countries where it operates. 130 countries including India have agreed to it so far.
  3. MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES By targeting the spike protein, these specific antibodies interfere with the virus’ ability to attach and gain entry into human cells. They give the immune system a leg up until it can mount its own response. This therapy can be extremely effective, but it’s not a replacement for vaccination.
  4. SMART CLOTHS Cloths powered wirelessly through a flexible, silk-based coil sewn on the textile. These contain miniaturised electronic circuits and sensors which not only monitor various health parameters but can be connected to various smart phones and devices to transfer such data. The cloth is sprayed with highly hydrophobic molecules that are rendered to become repellent to water, oil, and mud. These smart clothes are almost impossible to stain and can be used underwater and washed in conventional washing machines without damaging the electronic components sewn on their surface. Additionally, the ultra-thin coating on the clothing makes it flexible, stretchable and breathable as conventional cotton t-shirts.
  5. BLACK CARBON Black carbon consists of pure carbon in several linked forms. It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass. It is one of the components of particulate matter (PM<2.5 µm). It not only causes human morbidity and premature mortality but also causes global warming. Open biomass burning contributes more than 40 percent of total black carbon in the atmosphere. In India, Indo Gangetic plains are the biggest geographical source of black carbon. Black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only several days to weeks, whereas other potent greenhouse gases have longer lifecycles.
  6. FAST RADIO BURSTS It is a transient radio pulse of length ranging from a fraction of a millisecond to a few milliseconds, caused by some high-energy astrophysical process not yet understood. Astronomers estimate the average FRB releases as much energy in a millisecond as the Sun puts out in 3 days. They have always been a challenge to detect but a large stationary radio telescope in British Columbia has nearly quadrupled the number of fast radio bursts discovered to date. The telescope, known as CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment), has detected 535 new Fast Radio Bursts during its first year of operation, between 2018 and 2019. The exact origin and cause of the FRBs is still the subject of investigation. Astronomers had long suspected Magnetars to be the source of FRBs. Magnetars, short for ‘magnetic stars’ are the highly magnetic remnants of massive dead stars.
  7. WOODEN SATELLITE The European Space Agency (ESA) has planned to put the world’s first wooden satellite, WISA WOODSAT, on Earth’s orbit by the end of this year from New Zealand. The mission of the satellite is to test the applicability of wooden materials like plywood in spacecraft structures and expose it to extreme space conditions.
  8. WANDERING ELEPHANTS An elephant herd of 14 Asiatic elephants that captivated millions with their yearlong journey of more than 500 kms across China. It is unusual for the elephants to stray so far for so long periods, and that is what made this group catch the international headlines. It is not clear why they left the reserve, although experts say that shrinking habitats could have played a hand in their surprise migration.
  9. KOO Koo was founded in March 2020 as a microblogging platform in Indian languages. Available in multiple Indian languages, people from across different regions in India can express themselves in their mother tongue.
  10. CONTENT DELIVERY NETWORK (CDN) People connect to websites and applications from different parts of the world to access content. If a website’s servers are based in New York city for example, people farther from it will experience slower content delivery than those within the city. This creates inconsistency in user experience. Content Delivery Network, or CDN, solves this problem of delayed content. CDN delivers content from the website to users in different geographies in a quick, reliable, secure and efficient way. It is made up of a distributed group of servers in different locations. This allows major websites to keep a copy of their website closer to the customers. The CDN server closest to a user is termed as an edge server. Whenever a user requests content, they are connected to the closest edge server for fast delivery and improved user experience. CDNs also help protect companies against traffic spikes and malicious attack such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks.


Persons in News

  1. JUSTICE ARUN KUMAR MISHRA – Newly appointed chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
  2. NAFTALI BENNETT – Israel’s new Prime Minister.
  3. EBRAHIM RAISI – Iran’s new President.
  4. ABDULLA SHAHID – Maldivian Foreign Minister who has been elected as the 76th president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He is the first Maldivian and only the sixth person from the 52-member Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to hold the prestigious post. India has welcomed Shahid’s victory. It was among the first countries to endorse his candidature. The past year has not been easy for India in the UNGA with Turkish diplomat and politician, Volkan Bozkir, at the helm. Turkey has close relations with Pakistan and this impacted UNGA’s position on India-Pakistan issues.


Places in News

  1. JANGI THOPAN POWARI HYDRO ELECTRIC PROJECT – It is a proposed 804 megawatt hydro-electric project on river Satluj in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Residents of the region have been protesting against the project on grounds that it would impact the geohydrology of the region affecting not only their agriculture, along with Chilgoza forests, but also the topography of the region which is already so fragile. Chilgoza pine is well-known for its edible seeds and is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and other medicinal values. It is classified as an endangered and rare tree species. Jangi, one of the affected Gram Panchayat from this project, has one of the largest patches of chilgoza in the country. The CAGs report on Environmental Clearance and Post Clearance Monitoring revealed that 32 percent of projects have procedural violations in following the norms for environmental impact assessment studies and the non-compliance was maximum in the case of the river valley and hydroelectric projects.
  2. SOUTHERN OCEAN– The National Geographic magazine has recognised the ‘Southern Ocean’ as the world’s fifth ocean. he Southern Ocean is home to large populations of whales, penguins and seals. Southern Ocean is the only ocean ‘to touch three other oceans and to completely embrace a continent rather than being embraced by them.
  3. BHITARKANIKA NATIONAL PARK – It is a national park located in Orissa. The area is also been designated as second Ramsar site of the State after the Chilika Lake. The national park is home to Saltwater crocodile, Indian python and King cobra.


UNESCO labels Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as ‘In Danger’

  1. The GBR extends for about 2,300 km across North Eastern Australia.
  2. It was put in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1981.
  3. Climate change led to three big events of coral bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020. Therefore, UNESCO has now labelled GBR as ‘In Danger’.
  4. Australia is already pursuing ‘Reef 2050’ program to protect the GBR.


China certified malaria-free after 70-year fight

  1. Countries that have achieved at least three consecutive years of zero indigenous cases can apply for WHO certification of their malaria-free status.
  2. China becomes the 40th territory certified malaria-free by the Geneva-based WHO. The last countries to gain the status were El Salvador (2021), Algeria and Argentina (2019), and Paraguay and Uzbekistan (2018).
  3. Over 90 percent of malaria deaths occur in Africa.
  4. India is yet to get certified as malaria free.


Matera Declaration, 2021

  1. It refers to joint declaration by G-20 nations during 2021 G20 summit held in Matera in Italy.
  2. It calls upon the international community to
    1. step up efforts to contain the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives and livelihoods.
    2. build inclusive and climate resilient food chains and ensure adequate nutrition for all, in line with the ‘Zero Hunger’ goal set for 2030.
    3. implement effective actions for the empowerment of women and youth in the rural-urban continuum.
    4. enhance social-protection measures and programmes, with a focus on people living in vulnerable situations, of whom large shares depend on the agriculture and food sector for their livelihoods.
  3. The G20 member countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.


Fukuoka Prize

  1. The Fukuoka Prize is awarded by the city of Fukuoka in Japan, annually since 1990, to distinguished people to foster and increase awareness of Asian cultures, and to create a broad framework of exchange and mutual learning among the Asian people. It is awarded in three categories each year –
    1. Grand Prize
    2. Academic Prize
    3. Arts and Culture Prize.
  2. Noted journalist P. Sainath has been selected as recipient of the ‘Grand Prize’ of the Fukuoka Prize for 2021. Eleven Indians have received the Fukuoka Prize so far. The Grand Prize has earlier been awarded to
    1. AR Rehman (Musician)
    2. Vandana Shiva (Environmentalist)
    3. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod)
    4. Ustad Ravi Shankar (Sitar)
    5. Manna Dey (Musician)
    6. Ashis Nandy (Social and Cultural Critic)


On India’s Disaster Response

  1. All coastal States facing the Bay of Bengal have always been in the path of severe cyclones, the majority following the withdrawal of the monsoon, but their vulnerability may be growing as pre-monsoon and post-monsoon storms increase in frequency and strength. 
  2. The World Meteorological Organization in its State of the Global Climate 2020 report described Cyclone AMPHAN that hit Bengal in May last year as the costliest cyclone on record for the North Indian Ocean, with economic losses to India of the order of USD 14 billion. In human terms the extreme event displaced 2.4 million people. 
  3. Governments are, no doubt, more sensitive to loss of life today and are raising the capacity of the disaster response forces, but much work needs to be done when it comes to protecting assets and creating fiscal instruments to help people rebuild their lives. Moreover, the governments need to invest in forests and infrastructure that can help minimise the impacts of such cyclones. Mangrove forests have lived up to their reputation of being a bio-shield against strong winds each time, with little impact of cyclones in mangrove-forested regions.


India elected to UN Economic and Social Council for 2022-24 term

  1. UN-ECOSOC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic and social fields of the organization
  2. The Council consists of 54 Member States, which are elected yearly by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. The president of the Council is elected for a one-year term and chosen from the small or medium sized state.


In a world first, El Salvador makes bitcoin legal tender

  1. El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Under the law, bitcoin must be accepted by firms when offered as payment for goods and services. Tax contributions can also be paid in the cryptocurrency.
  2. El Salvador is a country in Central America. El Salvador ranks 124th among 189 countries in the Human Development Index Despite high rates of poverty and gang-related violent crime, El Salvador has the second-highest level of income equalityin Latin America, El Salvador is one of the least complex economies for doing business, and is the 34th happiest country in the world according to the Happy Planet Index.


Rare earth metals – Concepts, Current Scenarios and Opportunities for India

  1. Rare earth elements are a group of seventeen chemical elements that occur together in the periodic table. The group consists of scandium, yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium). Scandium and yttrium are considered rare-earth elements because they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties, but have different electronic and magnetic properties.  
  2. The rare earth elements are all metals, and the group is often referred to as the rare earth metals. These metals have many similar properties, and that often causes them to be found together in geologic deposits. They are also referred to as rare earth oxides because many of them are typically sold as oxide compounds.
  3. Rare earth elements are not as rare as their name implies. Thulium and lutetium are the two least abundant rare earth elements – but they each have an average crustal abundance that is nearly 200 times greater than the crustal abundance of gold. However, these metals are very difficult to mine because it is unusual to find them in concentrations high enough for economical extraction.
  4. The most abundant rare earth elements are cerium, yttrium, lanthanum and neodymium.
  5. Some of the use cases for Rare Earth Metals include –
    1. Batteries
    2. Illuminating Screens
    3. Electronic Circuits
    4. Magnets
    5. Catalytic Converters
    6. Polishing Compounds
  6. US imports about 80 percent, while EU imports more than 98 percent of its rare earth minerals from China. In addition to being the world’s largest producer of rare earth materials, China is also the dominant consumer. They use rare earths mainly in manufacturing electronics products for domestic and export markets. Japan and the United States are the second and third largest consumers of rare earth materials. It is possible that China’s reluctance to sell rare earths is a defence of their value-added manufacturing sector. Besides this, Chinese companies have been purchasing rare earth resources in other countries.
  7. India has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of rare earth elements, nearly twice as much as Australia, but it imports most of its rare earth needs in finished form from its geopolitical rival, China. With adjustments to the existing policy, India could emerge as a rare earths supplier to the world. Currently,  Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) has monopoly over the primary mineral that contains REEs i.e. monazite beach sand, and it produces only a miniscule of total world production. India must open its rare earth sector up to competition and innovation, and attract the large amounts of capital needed to set up facilities to compete with, and supply to, the world. The best move forward might be to create a new Department for Rare Earths (DRE) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, drawing on its exploration, exploitation, refining, and regulation capabilities. This DRE should oversee policy formulation and focus on attracting investment and promoting R&D, with its first move being to allow private sector companies to process beach sand minerals within appropriate environmental safeguards. It should also create an autonomous regulator, the Rare Earths Regulatory Authority of India (RRAI), to resolve disputes between companies in this space and check compliance.
  8. The mining and extraction processes are capital-intensive, consume large amounts of energy, and release toxic by-products, an issue that has caused some controversy in India before. Processed minerals usually take the form of a rare earth oxide (REO), which then needs to be converted into a pure metal before it can be used to manufacture anything.

Defense Uses of Rare Earth Elements


night-vision goggles


laser range-finders, guidance systems, communications


fluorescents and phosphors in lamps and monitors


amplifiers in fibre-optic data transmission


permanent magnets that are stable at high temperatures


precision-guided weapons


“white noise” production in stealth technology



WHO declares Ebola outbreak in Guinea over

  1. An Ebola Outbreak that originated in Guinea earlier this year has been declared as over by WHO.
  2. The Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016 killed thousands of people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.


Mekedatu Project

  1. It is a proposed dam to be built on river Cauvery by Karnataka government to meet the water demands of Bengaluru city. However, the project is being opposed by Tamil Nadu government as it contends that upper riparian state Karnataka has no right to construct a dam on interstate river without the consent of the lower riparian state.
  2. It was in news recently since the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had taken suo-moto cognizance of media reports that alleged of irregularity in grant of environmental clearances to the project. However, NGT has now closed proceedings against the Mekedatu dam project after finding merit in the Karnataka government’s submissions that requisite environmental clearances were pending consideration before the concerned statutory authorities.


Raimona becomes Assam’s sixth national park

  1. Raimona National Park in Assam is famous for Golden Langur, an endemic species which has been named as the mascot of Bodoland region. It also has Asian elephant, and Royal Bengal tiger.
  2. The five national parks that existed in Assam prior to the Raimona are KAZIRANGA, MANAS, NAMERI, ORANG and DIBRU-SAIKHOWA.
  3. Eastern Assam’s DEHING PATKAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, under stress for unregulated coal mining in the vicinity is in the process of becoming the 7th national park.


India’s investment in research unsatisfactory: UNESCO report

  1. The gross domestic expenditure on research (GERD) has been stagnant at 0.7 percent of the GDP for years, although, in absolute terms, research expenditure has increased.
  2. The Science and Technology Policy of 2003 fixed the threshold of devoting 2 percent of GDP to research and development (R&D) by 2007. This target date was set back to 2018 in the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2013) then again to 2022 by the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister. In 2020, the task force drafting the country’s new Science and Technology Policy recommended pushing back the target date to a more realistic 2030,
  3. R&D in the government sector has been in steady decline since 2015, whereas the share of private sector research has gone drastically up.
  4. R&D is focused primarily in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, automotive, and information technology. 


The science behind GM crops

  1. Let us assume that scientists want to produce wheat with high protein content and they decide to incorporate the high protein quality of beans into wheat. To make this possible, a specific sequence of DNA with protein-making trait is isolated from the bean (which is called the donor organism) and is inserted into the gene structure of wheat, in a laboratory process. The new gene or the trans-gene thus produced is transferred into the recipient cells (wheat cells). The cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA structure. Traditional cultivation of these seeds will then be undertaken and we will have genetically modified wheat with high protein content. The trait can be anything. A DNA from a plant that has high resistance to pests can be introduced into another so that the second plant variety will have the pest-resistant trait. A DNA of blueberry could be inserted into that of a banana to get a blue banana. The exchange could be effected between two or more organisms. One can even introduce a gene of a fish into a plant. You don’t believe it? Consider this fact. Genes from an Arctic fish were inserted into tomatoes to make it tolerant to frost.
    1. Genetic engineering can improve crop protection. Crops with better resistance to pest and diseases can be created. The use of herbicides and pesticides can be reduced or even eliminated.
    2. Farmers can achieve high yield, and thereby get more income.
    3. Nutritional content can be improved.
    4. Shelf life of foods can be extended.
    5. Food with better taste and texture can be achieved.
    6. Crops can be engineered to withstand extreme weather.
  3. However, genetically engineered foods often present unintended side effects. Genetic engineering is a new field, and long-term results are unclear. Very little testing has been done on GM food.


Potential effects of climate change on India-China relationship

  1. Ever increasing global warming is expected to result in increased floods across the Brahmaputra river. China’s dam-building activities across Great Bend of the river could further amplify these risk, as the region around Great Bend is known to be earthquake-prone, presenting the risk of dam fracture and sudden water release in case of a major seismic event.
  2. China is also building dams on the Indus River in Pakistani-held Kashmir, territory that India claims, and over which three of four India-Pakistan wars have been fought. These dams are a part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which India has opposed. The study finds that glacier melt due to climate change is likely to increase streamflow above current levels in the Indus River for the next several decades, making these dam projects viable for the long term. The success of these projects could further cement the already-strong Chinese-Pakistani partnership, further entrenching the China-India rivalry.
  3. Enhanced floods in downstream India due to climate change could lead to Indian suspicions of deliberate Chinese water manipulation, regardless of whether this is objectively true. Such risks will be the greatest during phases of particularly low bilateral trust, such as the current period.
  4. Global Warming will provide more opportunities for troop patrols on both sides, and therefore potentially more clashes, if tensions remain high. Troops also face enhanced risk of glacial lake outburst floods and avalanches.
  5. It is clear that climate change is no friend of de-escalation between India and China. But there’s a lot that can be done to reverse this slide. At a practical level, there is scope for greater data diplomacy – ensuring the measurement and exchange of more granular river flow data between the rivals. Early warning systems in the border region could help both sides respond to increasing natural disasters. Transparency is another key area for improvement. Beijing has a history of opaqueness when it comes to hydropower projects on transboundary rivers, as evidenced by the Mekong River basin experience in Southeast Asia, and this needs addressing.


Need for India to step up regional cooperation in South Asia

  1. South Asia was among the first regions to come together in recognising the threat (Covid-19) and committing to fight it together. The countries in the region created a Covid-19 emergency response fund and shared resources, equipment and knowledge. The region shares many common challenges – climate change, natural disasters, poverty, illiteracy, and social and gender imbalances, and also share the power of centuries-old cultural and people-to-people linkages.
  2. However, as the largest country in the region, India has traditionally dominated and hegemonized regional cooperation efforts. That has led to widespread mistrust and resentment amongst its smaller neighbours, all of whom are naturally suspicious of India’s intentions, given its size and significance in the region. Regional cooperation in South Asia is more likely to succeed if India’s neighbours step up and take the lead. In recent days, Bangladesh has managed to break from India-centrality in South Asia more decisively, by offering an unprecedented USD 200 million currency swap arrangement to Sri Lanka amid that country’s depleting foreign reserves. And it marks the first time that Sri Lanka is borrowing from a South Asian country that is not India. Also, it is the first time, that smaller nations like Nepal and Bangladesh have come forward to help India during COVID-19.
  3. Consensus building continues to be a challenge on major decisions. Most of the smaller states and external players believe that the India-Pakistan conflict has undermined SAARC. India needs to ensure that its bilateral issues don’t hinder regional cooperation efforts.
  4. Despite geographical proximity and the existence of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), South Asia is one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. Owing to protectionist policies, high logistics cost, lack of political will and a broader trust deficit, intra-regional trade in South Asia remains well below its potential at 5 percent of the region’s global trade. A lack of comparative advantage in the region also inhibits the prospects of increasing regional trade as envisioned under SAFTA. Moving forward, policies must focus on reducing barriers and facilitating greater connectivity. This will require political leadership to sacrifice domestic protectionism in order to pursue long-term strategic interests of greater trade interdependence with its neighbours. Improvements in cross-border infrastructure such as Integrated Check-Posts (ICPs), road, air and rail links are key to facilitating trade in the region. Countries with different comparative advantages and product specialisation would have more opportunities to mutually benefit from trade than countries with a high degree of similar products and specialisation. Enhancing intra-regional trade is necessary to increase connectivity in the South Asian region. Facilitated by the flow of goods, services, people, and knowledge, such an initiative would provide access to new markets as well as attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in diverse sectors. The ensuing economic growth would also play a key role in bridging the trust deficit in the region and raise the opportunity cost of conflict.


Protests against administrative and land reforms initiated in Lakshadweep

  1. Lakshadweep administration has come up with four draft regulations and the Ordinances. Below are the salient features along with the reason why the local community is protesting these.
    1. Administration to have preventive detention powers up to one year. Locals say that Lakshadweep has one of the lowest crime rates in the country and such powers have more chances to be misused.
    2. Prohibition on selling or buying beef or beef products. If found guilty, a person can be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to ten years but shall not be less than seven years. Such a law seems to be excessive given that 95 percent of the population is comprised of Muslims.
    3. No right to a person with more than two children to contest Gram Panchayat elections. Its population growth rate has seen a dramatic fall in last decade, which does not indicate a need to control population. The government’s argument is the high population density of Lakshadweep.
    4. Constitution of a Planning and Development Authority with sweeping powers over the use of land and waters. These clauses vest the administrator with powers to acquire any piece of the island for development and remove or relocate islanders if their existence in the localities conflicts with the proposed town planning or developmental activities. In Lakshadweep, land is a limited commodity. Every acre of the inhabited and uninhabited islands is used by local communities for livelihood activities. Diverting this land towards infrastructure development could only serve to intensify the ecological impacts on the land.